Industrial policy

Road haulage dispute: secondary picketing; part 2

  • Catalogue ref: PREM 16/2128
  • Date: 15 Jan 1979 - 18 Jan 1979

On 11 January 1979 the lorry drivers' dispute was made official by the Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU) - this was a major problem for the Government. This file shows the extent of the difficulties. There was much concern that essential, supplies would be put in danger due to secondary picketing. Troops were put on standby as the Government was on the verge of declaring a state of emergency. The file includes striking comments by Prime Minister Callaghan and a powerful letter to the PM by Transport Secretary William Rodgers.

Go to Discovery to view the images


Political situation; UK government and banking exposure; evacuation of British citizens; Shah's inquiry about residence in UK; part 3

In February 1979, freelance journalist Alan Hart had an intermediary role in sounding out the UK Government about the possibility of the Shah and his family being admitted to the UK for permanent residence. The British Government take a discouraging line - James Callaghan's comments are not unsympathetic but are influenced by 'realpolitik' considerations.

Go to Discovery to view the images

Political situation: political, economic and defence implications for UK; admission of Shah to UK; part 4

The British Government continues to discourage the Shah from applying to enter the UK for residence. Security considerations are mentioned, in regard to protection of the Shah.

Go to Discovery to view the images

Position of the Shah of Iran and Pahlavi family: question of entry into the UK

  • Catalogue ref: FCO 8/3392
  • Date: 29 Mar 1979 - 30 Apr 1979

On 19 May, the former British ambassador to Iran, Sir Denis Wright, embarks on a secret mission to the Bahamas to meet the deposed Shah of Iran. Under the alias Edward Wilson and on the pretence of meeting an old friend, Sir Dennis is tasked with privately persuading the Shah not to pursue his application for UK residence, particularly in light of fears of a political assassination. Meanwhile efforts by Khomeini's government look to isolate the Shah's family by voiding his passport and forcing the Shah's brother Prince Ghulam Reza to apply for refugee status.


UK/Malta relations: participation by British shipbuilders in shipbuilding venture in Malta; textile negotiations; progress of British military withdrawal; form of departure ceremonies; part 3

  • Catalogue ref: PREM 16/2163
  • Date: 27 Feb 1978 - 29 Mar 1979

The main focus of the file concerns arrangements for the British military withdrawal from Malta on 31 March 1979. PM Callaghan's telephone conversation with Malta's Prime Minister Dom Mintoff on 6 March is poignant and candid, and revealing about Callaghan's mood at the time.

Go to Discovery to view the images


Financial difficulties in newspaper industry: Atlantic Richfield acquisition of 'The Observer'; industrial dispute at 'The Times'; part 5

  • Catalogue ref: PREM 16/2213
  • Date: 01 Dec 1976 - 12 Apr 1979

From November 1978 printing of The Times was suspended for virtually a year due to a printing strike. In February '79 Tony Benn floated a proposal that the BBC should acquire The Times. There was irritation in government circles that Benn had apparently not sought official clearance before making this proposal, and the PM got involved.

Go to Discovery to view the images


Steel baths; UK industry (including Edward Curran Engineering Limited, firm in PM's constituency) undercut by imports from Italy

  • Catalogue ref: PREM 16/2273
  • Date: 21 Apr 1977 - 09 Apr 1979

The file is interesting because of PM Callaghan's personal involvement (the bath manufacturer affected by Italian imports was in the PM's Cardiff constituency), and his choice of words in urging government action: 'make a splash in all directions!'

Go to Discovery to view the images

Civil service

Freeze on Civil Service manpower; action to reduce Civil Service numbers and staff costs; part 1

  • Catalogue ref: PREM 19/5
  • Date: 08 May 1979 - 28 Aug 1979

This file looks at one of the very first initiatives set out by the new Government, looking at ways to reduce the Civil Service by an initial freeze on recruitment. The file contains correspondence between Ministers and the Prime Minister discussing the arrangements for individual departments, as well the Civil Service in general. 

Go to Discovery to view the images


Proposal for Prime Minister to send a Christmas message to civil service

  • Catalogue ref: PREM 19/7
  • Date: 20 Nov 1979 - 26 Nov 1979

This short file contains a proposal to the Prime Minister to send a Christmas message to the Civil Service, alongside that which goes out the armed forces.

Go to Discovery to view the images

Economic policy

Tokyo economic summit, June 1979; part 1

  • Catalogue ref: PREM 19/27
  • Date: 08 May 1979 - 29 Jun 1979

This file includes reactions to a Japanese report that when Mrs Thatcher attended the Tokyo Economic Summit, 20 'karate ladies' would attend her. Sir John Hunt, Cabinet Secretary, makes it clear that Mrs Thatcher would not want any special treatment.

Go to Discovery to view the images


Situation in Northern Ireland; part 1

  • Catalogue ref: PREM 19/80
  • Date: 02 May 1979 - 24 Aug 1979

The Thatcher Government took a tough line when faced with the US decision to hold back on approval of the supply of weapons for the Royal Ulster Constabulary. The file includes some forthright comments by Mrs Thatcher.   

Go to Discovery to view the images



Request by Prime Minister for Cabinet Ministers to give an assessment of the position inherited in their departments

  • Catalogue ref: PREM 19/93
  • Date: 09 May 1979 - 11 May 1979

The Prime Minister asks her Cabinet to put forward a one-page assessment of each of their departments, the results of which are collated in this file. This offers a good perspective on the new Ministers' take on their departments, and the work of the predecessors.

Go to Discovery to view the images


Vietnamese refugees in Hong Kong; resettlement in UK; part 1

  • Catalogue ref: PREM 19/129
  • Date: 24 May 1979 - 14 Jun 1979

The numbers of refugees fleeing from Communist rule in Vietnam included many ethnic Chinese who left Vietnam after China's invasion of that country in 1979, and these refugees became known as the 'boat people'. PM Thatcher decided on humanitarian grounds to accept the refugees on board MV Sibonga, but was reluctant to give further commitments.

Go to Discovery to view the images

Vietnamese refugees in Hong Kong; resettlement in UK; part 2

  • Catalogue ref: PREM 19/130
  • Date: 15 Jun 1979 - 19 Jul 1979

Mrs Thatcher expressed some strong opinions about the refugee issue. The UK accepted a quota of 10,000 refugees.

Go to Discovery to view the images



Release of intelligence records to Public Record Office; avowal of intelligence organisations; publication of official history on wartime intelligence

  • Catalogue ref: PREM 16/2081
  • Date: 29 Nov 1973 - 19 Jan 1979

Prime Minister James Callaghan comments whether by publishing the history 'we are laying up trouble for ourselves in the future'. Further discussion on the issue of publishing the history and admittance to the existence of intelligence services leads to a firm response from opposition leader, Margaret Thatcher.

Go to Discovery to view the images