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1970 Cabinet conclusion on worker demonstrations

Cabinet Conclusion 3 December 1970. Demonstrations on 8 December
Cabinet Conclusion 3 December 1970. Demonstrations on 8 December
CAB 128/47          CM 43 (70) 2

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In 1970 a new Conservative government was elected under Edward Heath. He was determined to try and tackle the power of the unions. He put forward proposals (a Bill) for an Industrial Relations Act in 1970. As this extract shows, there were major protests but the Bill became law (an Act) in 1971.

Questions to consider

  1. What was causing the protests?
  2. Does the tone of the report reveal anything about the attitude of the Home Secretary towards the demonstrators?
  3. The Bill in question became law in 1971. Does this surprise you?


Demonstrations on 8 December

The Home Secretary said that unofficial strikes and demonstrations appeared likely to take place on 8 December in various parts of the country in protest against the Industrial Relations Bill. They might cause some inconvenience to the public and some loss of production in certain industries and services; but support for the protest appeared to be less strong than the organisers had hoped. In London there would be a mass march of 20,000 or more from Tower Hill to Speaker's Corner. The organisers were co-operating with the police as regards the necessary arrangements for the march; but, even though special measures would be taken to increase the number of police available, there might be some difficulty in controlling the crowd. 

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