The Boards of UK Nationalised Industries and Their Members c.1950–c.1979

  • Neil Rollings
Part of the Central Issues in Contemporary Economic Theory and Policy book series (CICETP)


The appointment of board members to private companies has received considerable academic attention. The same cannot be said for state-owned enterprises. This chapter explores the issues raised in the appointment of board members for the nationalised industries in Britain in the post-war period. It shows that such appointments were perceived to be important, but that the appointment process remained flawed and problematic despite numerous attempts at reform. It is suggested that the lack of conformity in perceptions of the role of these boards and the desirable characteristics of a good manager in the nationalised industries stymied these efforts at reform.


State-owned enterprises Governance UK Post-1945 

JEL Classification

L32 N44 N84 


  1. Acton Society Trust (1950), The Men on the Boards, Claygate, Acton Society Trust.Google Scholar
  2. Amatori F. – Millward R. – Toninelli P.A. (2011), «Introduction», in Amatori F. – Millward R. – Toninelli P.A. (eds), Reappraising State-Owned Enterprise: A Comparison of the UK and Italy, Abingdon, Routledge, pp. 3–10.Google Scholar
  3. Ashworth W.A. (1986), The History of the British Coal Industry, vol. 5, 1946–1982: The Nationalized Industry, Oxford, Clarendon.Google Scholar
  4. Ashworth W.A. (1991), The State in Business: 1945 to the Mid-1980s, Basingstoke, Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Buttle G.W. (2008), A Signal Failure? The Organisation and Management of British Railways 1948–1964, University of Durham, Ph.D.Google Scholar
  6. Cadbury Committee (1992), The Financial Aspects of Corporate Governance, London, Gee and Co.Google Scholar
  7. Centre for Policy Studies (Cps) (1984), Which Direction? Board Appointments in Nationalised Industries, London, Centre for Policy Studies.Google Scholar
  8. Chester D.N. (1975), The Nationalisation of British Industry 1945–51, London, HMSO.Google Scholar
  9. Chick M. (2011), «Property Rights, Economic Rents, BNOC, and North Sea Oil», in Amatori F. et al. (eds), Reappraising State-Owned Enterprise: A Comparison of the UK and Italy, Abingdon, Routledge, pp. 145–163.Google Scholar
  10. Cook P. (1997), «Policy Arena: Privatization, Public Enterprise Reform and the World Bank: has “Bureaucrats in Business” Got It Right?», Journal of International Development, vol. 9, no. 6, pp. 887–897.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. The Economist (1981), Think Tank’s Damp Squib, August 8, pp. 20–21.Google Scholar
  12. Foster C. (1972), Public Enterprise, London, Fabian Society.Google Scholar
  13. Gourvish T. (1986), British Railways, 1948–73: A Business History, Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Gourvish T. (2002), British Rail, 1974–97: From Integration to Privatisation, Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Hannah L. (1982), Engineers, Managers and Politicians: The First Fifteen Years of Nationalised Electricity Supply in Britain, Basingstoke, Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hannah L. (2004), «A failed experiment: the state ownership of industry», in Floud, R. and P. Johnson (eds), The Cambridge Economic History of Modern Britain, vol. 3, Cambridge University Press, pp. 84–111.Google Scholar
  17. Hanson A.H. (1962), Managerial Problems in Public Enterprise, London, Asia Publishing House.Google Scholar
  18. Heath J. (1980), «Management in the Nationalised Industries», Nationalised Industries Chairmen’s Group, Occasional Paper, no. 2.Google Scholar
  19. Jenkins A.G. (1998), The British Gas industry, 1949 to 1970: Management Strategies and Government Regulation, University of Exeter, Ph.D.Google Scholar
  20. Jenkins A.G. (2004), «Government Intervention in the British Gas Industry, 1948 to 1970», Business History, vol. 46, no. 1, pp. 57–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kelf-Cohen R. (1973), British Nationalisation 1945–1973, London, Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Khosa R.J. – Adam M. (2007), The Power of Governance: Enhancing the Performance of State-Owned Enterprises, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Millward R. (2000), «State Enterprise in 20th Century Britain», in Toninelli P.L. (ed.), The Rise and Fall of State Enterprises in Western Countries, Cambridge University Press, pp. 157–184.Google Scholar
  24. Millward R. (2005), Private and Public Enterprise in Europe: Energy, Telecommunications and Transport, 1830–1990, Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Millward R. (2006), «Explaining Institutional Change in the Networks: Britain in Comparative Perspective 1945–90», in Clifton J. – Fuentes D. – Comin F. (eds), Transforming Public Enterprise in Europe and the Americas: Networks, Integration and Transnationalisation, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 16–43.Google Scholar
  26. Millward R. (2011), «The Nature of State Enterprise in Britain», in Amatori F. et al. (eds), Reappraising State-Owned Enterprise: A Comparison of the UK and Italy, Abingdon, Routledge, pp. 11–30.Google Scholar
  27. Millward R. (2013), The State and Business in the Major Powers, Abingdon, Routledge.Google Scholar
  28. Milward G.E. (ed.) (1950), Large-Scale Organisation, London, Institute for Public Administration.Google Scholar
  29. Morrison H. (1933), Socialisation and Transport, London, Constable.Google Scholar
  30. Mueller F. – Carter C. (2007), «“We Are All Managers Now”: Managerialism and Professional Engineering in UK Electricity Utilities», Accounting, Organizations and Society, vol. 32, no. 1–2, pp. 181–195.Google Scholar
  31. Musacchio A. – Lazzarini S.G. (2014), Reinventing State Capitalism: Leviathan in Business, Brazil and Beyond, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. National Economic Development Office (Nedo) (1976), A Study of UK Nationalised Industries: Their Role in the Economy and Control in the Future, London, HMSO.Google Scholar
  33. Nordberg D. – McNulty T. (2013), «Creating Better Boards through Codification: Possibilities and Limitations in UK Corporate Governance, 1992–2010», Business History, vol. 55, no. 3, pp. 348–374.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. OECD (2005a), OECD Guidelines on Corporate Governance of State-Owned Enterprises, Paris, OECD, 2005.Google Scholar
  35. Oecd (2005b), Corporate Governance of State-Owned Enterprises: A Survey of OECD Countries, Paris, OECD, 2005.Google Scholar
  36. Parker D. (2009), The Official History of Privatisation, vol. 1, The Formative Years, 1970–1987, Abingdon, Routledge.Google Scholar
  37. Parker D. (2012), The Official History of Privatisation, vol. 2, Popular Capitalism, 1987–1997, Abingdon, Routledge.Google Scholar
  38. Pendleton A. (1997), «The Evolution of Industrial Relations in UK Nationalized Industries», British Journal of Industrial Relations, vol. 35, no. 2, pp. 145–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Ramandham V.V. (1959), Public Enterprise in Britain: Thoughts on Recent Experiences, London, Frank Cass.Google Scholar
  40. Redwood J. – Hatch J. (1982), Controlling Public Industries, Oxford, Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  41. Robson W.A. (1950), «The Governing Board of the Public Corporation», Political Quarterly, vol. 21, no. 2, pp. 135–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Select Committee on Nationalised Industries (1967–1968), Ministerial Control of Nationalised Industries, vol. 1, HC 371.Google Scholar
  43. Shanks M. (ed.) (1963), Lessons of Public Enterprise, London, Jonathan Cape.Google Scholar
  44. Simon Lord (1957), The Boards of Nationalized Industries, London, Longmans.Google Scholar
  45. Simpson S.N.Y. (2014), «Boards and Governance of State-Owned Enterprises», Corporate Governance, vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 238–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Street A. (1947), The Public Corporation in British Experience, London, Institute of Public Administration.Google Scholar
  47. Tombs F. (1980), The Role of the Nationalised Industries: Based on a Lecture to the Bristol Centre of the Institute of Bankers, Bristol, Electricity Council.Google Scholar
  48. Tomlinson J. (2008), «A “Failed Experiment”? Public Ownership and the Narratives of Post-War Britain», Labour History Review, vol. 73, no. 2, pp. 228–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. UK Government (1960), The Reorganisation of National Transport Undertakings, Cmnd. 1248, London, HMSO.Google Scholar
  50. UK Government (1978), The Nationalised Industries, Cmnd. 7131, London, HMSO.Google Scholar
  51. UK Government (various years), Public Boards: Lists of Members of Public Boards of a Commercial Character, London, HMSO.Google Scholar
  52. UK National Archives (1945a), T 273/346, A. Johnston to Herbert Morrison (Lord President), Method of Appointment to Boards Operating Socialised Industries and Undertakings, December 6.Google Scholar
  53. UK National Archives (1945b), T 273/346, A. Johnston to the Lord President, November 16.Google Scholar
  54. UK National Archives (1965), T 319/69, Lawrence Airey (Treasury), Note for the Record, December 7.Google Scholar
  55. UK National Archives (1966a), T 319/69, Peter Vinter (Treasury) to Louis Petch (Treasury), August 16.Google Scholar
  56. UK National Archives (1966b), EW 1/86, Michael Shanks to Douglas Allen, December 1966.Google Scholar
  57. UK National Archives (1966c), John Hunt, Nationalised Industries Appointments’, September 13.Google Scholar
  58. UK National Archives (1966d), T 319/69, Louis Petch, Appointments to Boards of Nationalised Industries, November 18.Google Scholar
  59. UK National Archives (1966e), EW 1/86, Michael Shanks to Douglas Allen, December 16.Google Scholar
  60. UK National Archives (1966f), T 319/69, John Hunt to Peter Middleton, Public Boards, January 12.Google Scholar
  61. UK National Archives (1966g), T 319/69, P.S. Ross to S.P. Osmond, Draft Minute to the Prime Minister, November 21.Google Scholar
  62. UK National Archives (1966h), T 319/69, Nationalised Industries Appointments, note of a meeting held on 26th October 1966, November.Google Scholar
  63. UK National Archives (1967), Patrick Coldstream, Appointments to Boards of Nationalised Industries, February 14.Google Scholar
  64. UK National Archives (1970), POWE 52/437, D. le B. Jones, The Benson Exercise, April 1.Google Scholar
  65. UK National Archives (1971a), T 319/1226, P.E. Lazarus (Treasury) to Gedling, Appointment to Public Boards, April 21.Google Scholar
  66. UK National Archives (1971b), T 319/1226, Lazarus to Gedling, Appointment of Mr Peter Menzies as Chairman of the Electricity Council, September 23.Google Scholar
  67. UK National Archives (1971c), T 319/1226, C.J. Carey, Government Appointments to Companies in Trouble, August 12.Google Scholar
  68. UK National Archives (1972a), T 319/1441, Draft Public Appointments: Nationalised Industries, sent to Sir Douglas Allen (Treasury) for comment, April 25.Google Scholar
  69. UK National Archives (1972b), FV 35/19, R. Jardine, Recruitment for Nationalised Boards, December 14.Google Scholar
  70. UK National Archives (1972c), T 319/1441, C.R. Walker, Retention of Outside Income by Nationalised Board Members: Mr. Peter Menzies, March 15.Google Scholar
  71. UK National Archives (1972d), T 319/1441, Robert Marshall to Douglas Allen, May 12.Google Scholar
  72. UK National Archives (1973), T 319/1683, unclear signature on handwritten note, September 10.Google Scholar
  73. UK National Archives (1974), PREM 16/438, John Hunt to Harold Wilson (Prime Minister), July 5.Google Scholar
  74. UK National Archives (1975a), PREM 16/438, Key Appointments in the Public Sector: Report of Special Review Team, sent by Douglas Allen, February 3.Google Scholar
  75. UK National Archives (1975b), PREM 16/438, Stowe to the Prime Minister, Key Appointments in the Public Sector, April 24.Google Scholar
  76. UK National Archives (1979a), AN 192/84, Memorandum to Sub-Committee “E” of the House of Commons Select Committee on the Nationalised industries, Association of Members of State Industry Boards, February 14.Google Scholar
  77. UK National Archives (1979b), AN 192/84, John Heath to Sir Peter Parker, Chairman British Railways, February 1.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Neil Rollings
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Social and Political SciencesUniversity of GlasgowGlasgowUK

Personalised recommendations