This first volume of the Official History studies the background to privatisation, and the privatisations of the first two Conservative Governments led by Margaret Thatcher from May 1979 to June 1987. First commissioned by the then Prime Minister Tony Blair as an authoritative history, this volume addresses a number of key questions:
- To what extent was privatisation a clear policy commitment within the Thatcher Governments of the 1980s - or did Government simply stumble on the idea?
- Why were particular public corporations sold early in the 1980s and other sales delayed until well into the 1990s?
- What were the privatisation objectives and how did they change over time, if at all?
- How was each privatisation planned and executed, how were different City advisers appointed and remunerated, what precise roles did they play?
- How was each privatisation administered; in what ways did the methods evolve and change and why? How were sale prices determined?
- Which government departments took the lead role; what was the input of the Treasury and Bank of England; and what was the relationship between Ministers and civil servants?
The study draws heavily from the official records of the British Government to which the author was given full access and from interviews with leading figures involved in each of the privatisations – including ex-Ministers, civil servants, business and City figures, as well as academics that have studied the subject. This new official history will be of much interest to students of British political history, economics and business studies.
Table of Contents
1: Nationalisation to Privatisation: 1945-79 – the Genesis of a Policy Idea. 2: The Conservative Party, Nationalisation and the 1979 General Election. 3: Balancing the Books: Privatisation and the 1979-83 Government. 4: Privatising Oil. 5: Privatising British Aerospace and Cable and Wireless. 6: Privatising Amersham International, the National Freight Corporation and Associated British Ports. 7: The First Four Years – A Retrospective. 8: Into the Heartlands of the Public Trading Sector: Privatisation and the 1983-7 Thatcher Government. 9: Privatising British Airways, Rolls-Royce, Shipbuilding and the Royal Dockyards. 10: Privatising Bus Transport and the Royal Ordnance Factories. 11: Privatising British Telecom: The Decision to Privatise. 12: Privatising British Telecom: OFTEL and Regulating Profits or Prices. 13: Privatising British Telecom: The Flotation and Repercussions. 14: The Privatisation of British Gas: The Decision to Privatise and Designing an Appropriate Regulatory Regime. 15: The Privatisation of British Gas: The Flotation and Aftermath.
David Parker is Research Professor in Privatisation and Regulation in the School of Management, Cranfield University, UK. He has researched privatisation for over 25 years, and has acted as a consultant on privatisation internationally. Previous publications include co-authoring The International Handbook on Privatization.