Faced with Britain's worst industrial and economic crisis for years, the cabinet met in London on Thursday morning (17 January), amid growing expectations that a General Election would soon be called Experts were speculating that the likeliest polling dates should be February 7th or 14th.
GV & SV Downing Street and sign (2 shots)
SV Policemen on guard
SV Barber Chancellor of the Exchequer waves and into car
SV Godber Minister of Agriculture leaving followed by officials
SV Maurice Macmillan Paymaster General leaving and crossing road
SV Lord Hailsham Lord Chancellor leaving and Lord Carrington Secretary of State for Energy being spoken to by reporters
SV Peter Walker Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Mrs. Thatcher Secretary of State for Education and Science.
SV Whitelaw Secretary of State for Employment and Carr Home Secretary leaving, Reporter tries to speak to Whitelaw and he replies
SV Rippon Secretary for the Environment leaving and walking towards car
SV PAN Pym Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, leaving, into car and away
"Other than I'm going to have lunch if you'll allow me to go to my car to go and do it."
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Background: Faced with Britain's worst industrial and economic crisis for years, the cabinet met in London on Thursday morning (17 January), amid growing expectations that a General Election would soon be called Experts were speculating that the likeliest polling dates should be February 7th or 14th.
The meeting of ministers was unusually long, lasting more than two-and-a-half hours. Afterwards, Government spokesmen would only say that the possibility of further talks with Trade Union leaders had been discussed.
Election speculation had increased after a special meeting of union leaders affiliated to the Trades Union Congress (T.U.C.) on Wednesday (16 January). At this meeting the unions said that the Government should take up the plan they had proposed to end the 66-day-old miners dispute. They could not offer the Government any additional concession.
Reports said that there was still a possibility of further talks between the Government and unions to try to case the economic and industrial crisis that has put Britain on a three-day working week and brought gloomy forecasts of years of economic austerity.
The mood of many Members of Parliament was described as "fractious and impatient" as they waited to question Mr. Heath on his intentions in the House of Commons on Thursday afternoon.
As the Cabinet ministers left 10 Downing Street after the meeting, none of them would comment on their deliberations. Asked by reporters what his plans were - Mr. William Whitelaw, the Employment Minister, replied:-
The Prime Minister was equally evasive when he faced up to questions in the House of Commons in the afternoon.l However, he told the Commons that he had not ruled out more negotiations with leaders of the T.U.C.
SYNOPSIS: At the officials residence of the British Prime Minister, Mr. Edward Heath, Cabinet Ministers met on Thursday morning amid growing expectations that a General Election would be announced shortly afterwards. But when they left - Chancellor Barber being one of the first - there was no statement for the reporters waiting outside. The meeting had been unusually long more than two-and-a-half hours.
It had taken place in an atmosphere of a national economic crisis, with Britain on a three-day working week and observers forecasting years of economic austerity. Election speculation had increased since the Trades Union Congress and the Government fails to reach agreement on a TUC plan designed to end the miners' sixty-six-day-old dispute.
As they left the Ministers refused to comment about their discussions. Even the normally congenial Employment Secretary, Mr. Williams Whitelaw, gave nothing away:-
In the afternoon, Member of the House of Commons had opportunity question the Prime Minister about whether he intended to call an election. It had been expected that he might announce the election date to the Commons, but he too refused to be drawn on the subject. However, he did tell M.P.s that he had not ruled out more negotiations with trade union leaders, so an election on February the seventh seemed unlikely.