Newly released records from 1978

December 2008

Return to list

Newly released records from 1978

30 December 2008

BBC. Financing the BBC: TV licence fee increases (PREM 16/1516) 1974 Aug 01 - 1978 Nov 22
This file includes an interesting record of the Prime Minister's meeting with the chairman of the BBC, as well as Cabinet discussions on raising the licence fee. Download the document from Discovery

BROADCASTING. Committee on Future of Broadcasting (chairman: Lord Annan): Government response - draft White Paper; part 2 (PREM 16/1525) 1978 Jan 08 - 1978 Jun 22
Committee of Enquiry into the future of broadcasting was established in April 1974, and produced a report in 1977. The 'Annan report' endorsed the concept of public service broadcasting and a fourth channel. This file contains lengthy ministerial consideration ahead of the publishing of a White paper in July 1978. Topics covered included the possibility of a fourth channel, the idea of an Open Broadcasting Authority and a possible restructuring of the BBC. Download the document from Discovery

BROADCASTING. Committee on Future of Broadcasting (chairman: Lord Annan): Government response - draft White Paper; part 3 (PREM 16/1526) 1978 Jun 27 - 1978 Jul 24
Further to above file.

CHINA. Anglo-Chinese relations: defence sales to China; sale of Harrier aircraft; Chief of Defence Staff's controversial remarks in Peking; part 1
(PREM 16/1535) 1977 Oct 19 - 1978 Aug 23

This file concerns a visit Sir Neil Cameron, Chief of Defence Staff (CDC) made to China. A sale of Harrier jets to China was a possibility. CDC is reported to have referred to the Soviet Union as the 'enemy at our door' in a toast given at a lunch in Peking. The file includes Tony Benn's letter to the Prime Minister of 1 May 1978, expressing his concern, and the Prime Minister's reaction to this letter.

ECONOMIC POLICY. Economic strategy: pay and prices policy; Prime Minister's meetings with trade union leaders; part 36 (PREM 16/1610) 1978 Jul 20 - 1978 Oct 11
This file contains Tony Benn's Cabinet paper on Pay and Economic Policy from September 1978. It contains a number of interesting comments, including one from David Lipsey (Advisor to Jim Callaghan): "Could we win an election after a winter of discontent… we fight - but not to the death." (5 October 1978)

ELECTIONS. Timing of General Election after March 1977 defeat in House of Commons: agreement with Liberals; constitutional implications; part 1 (PREM 16/1621) 1977 Mar 18 - 1978 Sep 07
Despite speculation of an autumn election in 1978 the Prime Minister announced a fifth session of Parliament. This file contains the Prime Minister's 'Ministerial Broadcast' which put an end to the speculation. The documents provide an insight into the lead up to the announcement, including possible election dates that were considered, a paper on targets for legislation in the event of an early dissolution, and the opinions of the Whips, who were mainly in favour of deferring the election. Included in the file is a handwritten note from Tony Benn reading, "Jim - your secret is out. Tony", following an apparent leak in late May 1978 (although this was before the decision to defer the election had been taken). Download the document from Discovery

GOVERNMENT MACHINERY. Forward Look: ministerial consideration of Government's themes, objectives and policies for year ahead (PREM 16/1667) 1978 Sep 08 - 1978 Nov 02
This file provides a good insight into what Labour felt would be key areas for the term ahead, after deciding against an October election. Key areas included health; unemployment and technological change; and law, order and vandalism. The file contains a one-page paper from all Secretaries of State where the Prime Minister had asked them to outline their key priorities for the term ahead. Download the document from Discovery

HOME AFFAIRS. Celebrations to mark 50th anniversary of adult suffrage: Lady Birk to chair Steering Committee (PREM 16/1685) 1978 Jan 21 - 1978 Aug 14
1978 marked the 50th anniversary of adult suffrage. The file shows that the Prime Minister enthusiastically supported the idea of marking the anniversary. However, when the possibility arose, he made it clear that he did not want Margaret Thatcher MP to sit in the Royal Box at the gala event.

IMMIGRATION. Immigration policy: Government response to Franks Committee report on immigrants' dependants; part 2 (PREM 16/1687) 1977 Jan 14 - 1978 Feb 03
This file relates to correspondence related to Thatcher's position on amending the 1971 Immigration Act.

IMMIGRATION. Immigration policy: government response to report of Select Committee on Race Relations and Immigration; part 3 (PREM 16/1688) 1978 Feb 06 - 1978 Mar 29
Further to the above. This file contains notes on a meeting between the Prime Minister and the Whips: "It was claimed that many Asian immigrants were frightened. There was bitter opposition to the tactics adopted by Mrs Thatcher… and that resentment should be exploited by the government."

IMMIGRATION. Immigration policy: Home Secretary's parliamentary statement on immigration statistics in response to Select Committee on immigration report; Government Statistical Service draft article on New Commonwealth and Pakistani population statistics (PREM 16/1689) 1978 Mar 31 - 1978 Nov 21
The Government Statistical Service (GSS) produced some projections on immigration for publication. In this file, the Prime Minister is highly critical of these numbers: "On reading this, it seems to be full of one or other of: assumptions, estimates, arbitrary assumptions… This isn't statistics, it's astrology… if this is the best the Astrologer General can do, I would not publish."

INDUSTRIAL POLICY. Industrial action by oil tanker drivers: contingency measures; part 1 (PREM 16/1707) 1977 Dec 01 - 1978 Dec 15
When faced with the possibility of a strike by oil tanker drivers, the Cabinet looked at contingency plans to maintain essential services to avoid the petrol stations from drying-up. This file contains information about Operation Drumstick, the plan for using troops to take over from the tanker drivers to ensure supplies would not run out. The Government considered that a State of Emergency may have had to be declared in early January 1979. Download the document from Discovery

IRAN. Political situation in Iran; civil disturbances; future of Shah; part 1 (PREM 16/1719) 1977 Aug 06 - 1978 Nov 04
This file shows concern in Whitehall at the deteriorating situation in Iran. The file ends just before Ayatollah Khomeini's return to Iran.

Thumbnail linking to pop-up window

CANADA. Visit to UK by Secretary of State for External Affairs, Donald Jamieson: meeting with Prime Minister; James Callaghan Nature Trail in Newfoundland (PREM 16/1531) 1976 Nov 12 - 1978 Oct 12
This file relates to a nature trail that was named after the PM following his earlier visit to Canada. The Canadian Secretary of State for External Affairs, called on the Prime Minister for talks and to present a map of the James Callaghan Nature Trail. The files contains photographs, and comments from the PM who, to avoid any potential offence in Newfoundland, promised to seize the first opportunity to visit the trail. Download the document from Discovery

Thumbnail linking to pop-up window

DEFENCE. Defence against the Soviet threat to the UK (PREM 16/1563) 1977 Oct 24 - 1978 Sep 12
This file contains documents following a Joint Intelligence Committee paper in 1977, which looked at how well the UK would be able to defend itself against a Soviet attack. The records paint a sober picture of the UK's defence capabilities and the country's need to maintain close ties with its allies to present a 'collective Alliance posture'. Draft minutes of a meeting between the Prime Minister and the Defence Secretary highlight the Prime Minister's concern, and a comment that "one or two people should be sacked". Download the document from Discovery