This is Volume II of Professor Parker's authoritative Official History of Privatisation, covering the period from the re-election of Margaret Thatcher in 1987 to the election of Tony Blair in 1997.
Volume II considers in detail several of the major privatisations, including those of airports, steel, water, electricity, coal and the railways, as well as a number of smaller ones. Each privatisation involved major challenges in terms of industrial restructuring, organising successful sales and, in a number of cases, establishing effective regulatory regimes. The policy evolved and new methods of selling and regulating were put in place that enabled further disposals to occur. Monolithic nationalised industries with their emphasis on the benefits of economies of scale, vertical integration and rationalisation, were replaced by industrial structures rooted in the importance of commercial management, risk taking and competition. In government departments and parts of the National Health Service, direct employees were replaced by private contractors, and private investment became a characteristic of public infrastructure in the form of PFI/PPP schemes.
This study draws heavily on the official records of the British government, to which the author was given full access and on interviews with the 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 book will of great interest to students of privatisation, British political history and of business and economics in general.
1. The Privatisation Programme by June 1987 2. On To The Next Stage – Privatisation and the 1987-92 Government 3. Privatising The British Airports Authority 4. Privatising British Steel 5. Privatising British Leyland 6. Privatising Girobank, The Trust Ports and Short Brothers 7. Privatising the Water Industry: Early Planning 8. Regulating the Water Industry 9. Water Privatisation Achieved 10. Privatising the Electricity Industry: The Origins 11. The Failure to Privatise Nuclear Generation 12. Creating Electricity Markets 13. Privatising the Electricity Industry: Capital Restructuring, the Sales and Later Developments 14. Completing the Circle: Privatisation and the 1992-97 Government 15. Privatising the Coal Industry 16. Privatising the Railways: From Rejection to Legislation 17. Privatising the Railways: A Privatisation too Far? 18. Reviving the Goose. Appendix: Major Privatisations July 1987 – April 1997: A Listing of the Principal Advisers
The Government Official History series began in 1919 with wartime histories, and the peacetime series was inaugurated in 1966 by Harold Wilson. The aim of the series is to produce major histories in their own right, compiled by historians eminent in the field, who are afforded free access to all relevant material in the official archives. The Histories also provide a trusted secondary source for other historians and researchers while the official records are not in the public domain. The main criteria for selection of topics are that the histories should record important episodes or themes of British history while the official records can still be supplemented by the recollections of key players; and that they should be of general interest, and, preferably, involve the records of more than one government department.