Labour government 1974–79
The Labour Party, led by Harold Wilson and then James Callaghan as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, governed the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from 1974 until 1979. The end of Callaghan’s ministry was marked by the Winter of Discontent, a period of serious industrial discontent. This was followed by the election of Conservative Margaret Thatcher in 1979. See also First Wilson ministry for the 1964–70 period.
Historian Kenneth Morgan states:
- The fall of James Callaghan in the summer of 1979 met, according to most commentators across the political spectrum, meant the end of an ancien régime, a system of corporatism, Keynesian spending programmes, subsidized welfare, and trade union power.
After the February 1974 general election, no party had a majority of seats. The incumbent Conservative party won the popular vote, but Labour took the most seats. Edward Heath, the Conservative prime minister, attempted to negotiate a coalition with the Liberal party, but resigned as prime minister after failing in this regard. The Labour Party, led by Harold Wilson, then established a minority government, which took office on 4 March 1974.
It was generally recognised that this had no long-term stability, and that another general election was likely within a few months. Wilson called another general election for 10 October, and won by a majority of three seats.
The economy was in recession by the time of the first election, but economic growth was re-established by 1976, although inflation which had run into double digits before Labour came to power was now above 20%. It would remain high for the rest of this government, rarely falling below 10%. Unemployment was now well in excess of 1 million, whereas it had been less than 600,000 at the start of the decade. This was the result of the economic decline, as well as advancing engineering techniques which required fewer personnel, along with other factors including the closure of uneconomic factories and coalmines.
In March 1976, having just turned 60, Wilson resigned as prime minister, ending 13 years as Labour Party leader and a total of nearly eight years as prime minister. He was replaced by James Callaghan, who had held senior government roles during both of Wilson's spells as prime minister and had been a shadow cabinet member in the early 1960s.
Within a year of Callaghan taking office, the narrow Labour majority was eliminated due to by-election defeats, prompting a vote of confidence which prevented the government's collapse and a general election from being called. In order to sustain the government, Labour formed the Lib-Lab pact in March 1977 and this remained in force for 16 months. This minority government also managed to stay in power with unofficial deals with the Ulster Unionist Party and Scottish National Party.
By September 1978, economic growth was firmly re-established and inflation was below 10%, although unemployment now stood at a postwar high of 1.5 million. With most of the opinion polls showing a clear Labour lead it was widely expected that prime minister James Callaghan would call a general election that autumn, despite having another year to do so, in order to gain a majority and give his government the chance of surviving in office until 1983.
However, he resisted these calls and Britain began 1979 with Labour still in power and Callaghan still in charge, but his failure to call a general election during the autumn of 1978 would prove to be the undoing of this Labour government.
Although the 1974–79 Labour Government faced a number of economic difficulties, it was nevertheless able to carry out a broad range of reforms during its time in office. During Harold Wilson's final premiership from 1974 to 1976, a number of changes were carried out such as the introduction of new social security benefits and improvements in the rights of tenants. In March 1974, an additional £2 billion were announced for benefits, food subsidies, and housing subsidies, including a record 25% increase in the pension. Council house rents were also frozen. Council house building continued on a substantial scale, although there was now a greater emphasis on modernising older properties rather than replacing them with new ones.
That same year, national insurance benefits were increased by 13%, which brought pensions as a proportion of average earnings "up to a value equivalent to the previous high, which was reached in 1965 as a result of Labour legislation." In order to maintain the real value of these benefits in the long term, the government introduced legislation which linked future increases in pensions to higher incomes or wages. In 1974–75, social spending was increased in real terms by 9%. In 1974, pensions were increased in real terms by 14%, while in early 1975 increases were made in family allowances. There were also significant increases in rate and rent subsidies, together with £500 million worth of food subsidies.
An Independent Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (now simply called Acas) (regarded as very much the brainchild of the trade union leader Jack Jones) was set, which according to Robert Taylor continues to provide "an impartial and impressive function in resolving disputes and encouraging good industrial relations practice." A Manpower Services Commission was set up to encourage a more active labour market policy to improve job placements and deal with unemployment. The Pay Board was abolished, while the Price Commission was provided with greater powers to control and delay price increases. In addition, the Housing Rents and Subsidies Act 1975 gave power over rents back to local authorities.
To help those with disabilities, the government introduced an Invalid Care Allowance, a Mobility Allowance, a Non-Contributory Invalidity Pension for those unable to contribute through national insurance, and other measures. To combat child poverty, legislation to create a universal Child Benefit was passed in 1975 (a reform later implemented by the Callaghan Government). To raise the living standards of those dependant on national insurance benefits, the government index-linked short-term benefits to the rate of inflation, while pensions and long-term benefits were tied to increases in prices or earnings, whichever was higher.
In 1975, a State Earnings Related Pension Scheme (SERPS) was introduced. A new pension, which was inflation-proofed and linked to earnings, was added to the basic pension which was to increase in line with earnings for the first time ever. This reform assisted women by the linking of pensions to the 'twenty best years' of earnings, and those who worked at home caring for children or others were counted as contributors. This scheme was reformed by the subsequent Thatcher Government. The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 gave women the right in principle to equal access to jobs and equal treatment at work with men, while the Employment Protection Act 1975 introduced Statutory Maternity Leave. That same year, the wage stop was finally abolished. In addition, differentials between skilled and unskilled workers were narrowed as a result of egalitarian pay policies involving flat-rate increases.
The 1975 Social Security Pensions Act provided for equal access by men and women to employers’ pension schemes and also included a home responsibilities provision ensuring that parents and those looking after elderly dependents could retain their pension rights in spite of employment breaks. As a means of combating sex discrimination within the social security system, the Act provided that in future married women would receive the same level of personal sickness or unemployment benefit. The Housing Finance Act 1974 increased aid to local authorities for slum clearance, introduced a system of "fair rents" in public and private sector unfurnished accommodation, and introduced rent rebates for council tenants. The Housing Act 1974 improved the Renovation Grants scheme, provided increased levels of aid to housing associations (which emerged as a popular alternative to council housing for people seeking to rent a home), and extended the role of the Housing Corporation. The Rent Act 1974 extended security of tenure to tenants of furnished properties and allowed access to rent tribunals. The Community Land Act 1975 allowed for the taking into public control of development land, while the Child Benefits Act 1975 introduced an extra payment for lone parents. A Resource Allocation Working Party (RAWP) was also set up to produce a formula for a more equitable distribution of health care expenditure. Anthony Crosland, while serving as a minister during Wilson's second government, made a decision to reform the level of Rate Support Grant, introducing a standard level of relief across the country to benefit poorer urban areas.
Circular 4/74 (1974) renewed pressure for moves towards comprehensive education (progress of which had stalled under the Heath Government), while the industrial relations legislation passed under Edward Heath was repealed. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 set up a Health and Safety Commission and Executive and a legal framework for health and safety at work. The Employment Protection Act 1975 set up the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Services (ACAS) to arbitrate in industrial disputes, enlarged the rights of employees and trade unions, extended the redundancy payments scheme, and provided redress against unfair dismissal. The legislation also provided for paid maternity leave and outlawed dismissal for pregnancy. The Act also obliged employers to pay their workers a minimum guaranteed payment “if they are laid off through no fault of their own.” The Social Security Act 1975 introduced a maternity allowance fund, while the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 set up an Equal Opportunities Commission and outlawed gender discrimination (both indirect and direct). In addition, the Social Security Act of 1975 included progressive noise-induced hearing loss “in the list of prescribed diseases covered by the Industrial Injuries Scheme as Occupational Deafness.”
The Woodworking Machines Regulations 1974, replacing the 1922 Regulations, came into operation on in November 1974. These regulations raised the standard of guarding of the most dangerous machines. Improvements were made in mine-workers' pensions, while the Coal Mines (Respirable Dust) Regulations 1975, which came into operation in October that year, were aimed at reducing the incidence of coal miners' pneumoconiosis. They prescribed permitted amounts of respirable dust at workplaces in coal mines as well as arrangements for the suppression and continuous sampling of dust, and they include a scheme for the medical supervision of workers at risk. The Protection of Eyes Regulations 1974 and 1975, replacing the 1938 Regulations, extended protection to those employed on construction sites as well as in factories. In addition, the Policyholders Protection Act 1975 introduced safeguards for customers of failed insurance companies.
Wilson's successor Callaghan, together with his ministers, also introduced a number of reforms during their time in office. The Supplementary Benefits Act 1976 gave every person over the age of 16, whose resources were not enough to meet his or her basic needs, the right to claim a supplementary pension if he or she had reached state-pension age, and a supplementary allowance if he or she was less than this age. The Rent (Agricultural) Act 1976 provided security of tenure for agricultural workers in tied accommodation, while the Bail Act 1976 reformed bail conditions with courts having to explain refusal of bail. The Police Act 1976 set up a Police Complaints Board "to formalise the procedure for dealing with public complaints." The Education Act 1976 limited the taking up of independent and Direct grant school places and required all local authorities who had failed to do so "to submit proposals for comprehensive schools," while the Housing (Homeless Persons) Act 1977 extended local council responsibility "to provide accommodation for homeless people in their area," and instituted the right of homeless families to a permanent local council tenancy. In addition, efforts were made under the Environment Secretary Peter Shore to redistribute resources toward deprived urban areas. The Inner Urban Areas Act 1978 allowed local authorities to assist declining industrial areas and central government provided new subsidies to those inner city areas with the most problems, while the 1978 Finance Act introduced profit-sharing schemes. In April 1976, a Child Interim Benefit for single-parent families was introduced, followed by a universal Child Benefit scheme the following year.
The Callaghan Government also introduced a range of measures aimed at moderating pressures for wage rises and to create a favourable climate “for an orderly restoration of collective bargaining.” These included the granting of family income supplements to bring the incomes of lower-paid workers up to the level of social security benefits, the lowering of marginal tax rates on smaller incomes by rises in personal allowances, and increases in children’s allowances (which were payable to the mother). However, child tax allowances were lowered, which had the effect of reducing the take home pay of fathers. The impact of consumer price rises was also mitigated by higher income limits for free school meals, an increased milk subsidy, and a substantial reduction in the duty on petrol. In addition, electricity prices were lowered for families in receipt of supplementary benefits.
The government came under fire from the British public in November 1977, when the Fire Brigades Union called its first national strike, in response to the government's refusal to grant firefighters a 30% pay rise. The strike lasted until after Christmas, and for its duration Britain's fire services were operated by hastily trained army troops, whose Green Goddess vehicles dated from the 1950s and were considerably slower than the fire engines of the 1970s, and the troops lacked the breathing equipment available to the fire brigade. Well over 100 people died in fires during the strike, with the worst tragedy occurring in Wednesbury, where four children died in a house fire.
The Training Opportunities Scheme, under which more than 90,000 people completed their training in 1976 and which catered mainly for people over 19 years old, was extended during 1977 to include provisions for training persons for self-employment. In addition, technician training was extended and the network of skillcentres continued to expand. In August 1977, a scheme for voluntary early retirement was introduced in the coal industry for men aged 62 or more with 20 or more year's underground service, with weekly payments up to normal pensionable age. In January 1977, unions became authorized to lodge a claim on behalf of workers with the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service for an improvement in terms and conditions of employment on the grounds that existing terms and conditions were less favourable than the relevant recognized terms and conditions for the trade in the area or, where these did not exist, the general level. In February, sections of the Employment Act 1975 were brought into operation dealing with the qualifying hours for part-time work, thereby entitling large numbers of part-time workers to the same rights and job security as full-time workers. Also in February, employees became entitled to receive guarantee payments from their employers when laid off or on short time, while in April sections of the 1975 Employment Act were activated giving employees the right to paid time off work in order to perform certain public duties. The main provisions of the Race Relations Act 1976 came into force in June 1977, making it unlawful for an employer to discriminate in recruitment or dismissal or in the treatment of existing employees in matters of promotion, transfer, training or other benefits on the grounds of nationality, race, colour, colour, or ethic or national origins. A Commission for Racial Equality was established to work towards the elimination of discrimination the promotion of equality of opportunity, and good relations between persons of different racial groups.
In Scotland, the Community Service by Offenders Act 1978 introduced provisions whereby offenders might, under certain circumstances, be ordered by courts to undertake community work as an alternative to a prison sentence. This legislation brought Scotland in line with England and Wales where similar provisions already apply. The Mines (Precautions Against Inrushes) Regulations 1979 applied to all types of mines and made provision for measures to be taken against the hazard of inrushes of water or gas or material which flows when wet.
In housing policy, a shift of emphasis in housing policy towards rehabilitation was evident in the further increase in the number of General Improvement Areas and the number of Housing Action Areas declared. An Act of March 1977 makes provision, for a limited period, for benefits to be paid from the age of 64 to workers who agree to retire in order to free jobs for young unemployed people, in response to the rise of youth unemployment. A number of other improvements were introduced in 1977, with Attendance Allowances extended to cover handicapped foster children and non-contributory disablement pensions extended to married women whose invalidity prevented them from carrying out their household tasks. In January 1977, regulations were issued which brought about a change in the administration of legislation governing fire precautions at places of work. Under these regulations the Health and Safety Executive retained full responsibility for fire safety in certain 'special' premises such as nuclear installations, coalmines and chemical plants, whereas responsibility for general fire precautions at places of work was transferred to local fire authorities. In July 1977, an experimental Job Introduction Scheme was introduced to provide financial assistance enabling certain disabled people to undertake a trial period of employment with an employer, where there was reasonable doubt as to the person’s ability to perform a particular job. In July 1978, a revised and simplified scheme designed to assist severely disabled people with their travel-to-work costs was introduced.
The Safety Representatives and Committees Regulations of 1977 made provision for recognised trade unions to appoint health and safety representatives “and gave such representatives rights to representation and consultation on health and safety as well as rights to access to training and facilities to support them in undertaking these tasks.” The Homes Insulation Act 1978 provided for grants to occupiers towards the cost of thermal insulation of their dwellings, while under the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations recognized trade unions were allowed to appoint safety representatives who would have certain rights and functions. As part of an extension in external consultation on the prevention of industrial accidents and occupationally induced diseases the Health and Safety Commission established three Industry Advisory Committees for construction, railways and oil and regulations were issued in March 1978 dealing with the packaging and labelling of some 800 dangerous chemicals commonly used at work and in the home. Improvements to the Mineworkers Sick Pay Scheme were also introduced from 1978, with improvement in the formula for calculating benefit improved and the period of 'waiting days' reduced from seven to three. The Home Purchase Assistance and Housing Corporation Guarantee Act 1978, gave help to first-time home buyers. The Consumer Safety Act 1978 protected consumers from purchasing potentially harmful goods, while the 1979 Credit Unions Act, the last piece of legislation passed by the Labour government, set up a legal structure for credit unions.
The union strikes affected Britain during the Winter of Discontent (1978-79), As public services ground will halt in many sectors, and the government that clearly lost control of the situation. Furthermore, inflation was back in double digits. By one vote Commons passed a vote of no confidence in 1979. That necessitated a general election, which the Conservatives won decisively even though polls showed Callaghan was personally more popular with the voters than Conservative leader Margaret Thatcher. The problem was that many Labour voters swung away from Labour.
Callaghan continued to lead Labour in opposition for 18 months; His friendliest biographers take a negative view of the period. He stepped down to make way for Michael Foot, the leader of the leftist faction. Callaghan remained in parliament until 1987, having served in parliament for 42 years.
- If Wilson's record as prime minister was soon felt to have been one of failure, that sense of failure was powerfully reinforced by Callahan's term as premier. Labour, it seemed, was incapable of positive achievements. It was unable to control inflation, unable to control the unions, unable to solve the Irish problem, unable to solve the Rhodesian question, unable to secure its proposals for Welsh and Scottish devolution, unable to reach a popular modus vivendi with the Common Market, unable even to maintain itself in power until it could go to the country and the date of its own choosing. It was little wonder, therefore, that Mrs. Thatcher resoundingly defeated it in 1979.
Wilson's cabinet (March 1974 – April 1976)
Callaghan's cabinet (April 1976 – May 1979)
Full list of ministers
Members of the Cabinet are in bold face.
First Lord of the Treasury
and Minister for the Civil Service
|Harold Wilson||4 March 1974 – 5 April 1976|
|James Callaghan||5 April 1976 – 4 May 1979|
|Minister of State, Civil Service Department||Robert Sheldon||7 March 1974|
|Charles Morris||18 October 1974|
|Parliamentary Secretary, Civil Service Department||John Grant||7 March 1974 – 18 October 1974|
|Lord Chancellor||The Lord Elwyn-Jones||5 March 1974|
|Lord President of the Council |
and Leader of the House of Commons
|Edward Short||5 March 1974|
|Michael Foot||8 April 1976|
|Minister of State for the Privy Council Office||Gerald Fowler||18 October 1974|
|The Lord Crowther-Hunt||23 January 1976|
|John Smith||8 April 1976|
|The Baroness Birk||3 January 1979|
|Parliamentary Secretary to the Privy Council Office||William Price||18 October 1974|
|Lord Privy Seal |
and Leader of the House of Lords
|The Lord Shepherd||7 March 1974|
|The Lord Peart||10 September 1976|
|Chancellor of the Exchequer||Denis Healey||5 March 1974|
|Chief Secretary to the Treasury||Joel Barnett||7 March 1974||In Cabinet from Feb 1977|
|Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury||Robert Mellish||5 March 1974|
|Michael Cocks||8 April 1976|
|Financial Secretary to the Treasury||John Gilbert||7 March 1974|
|Robert Sheldon||17 June 1975|
|Minister of State, Treasury||Robert Sheldon||18 October 1974|
|Denzil Davies||17 June 1975|
|Lords of the Treasury||Donald Coleman||8 March 1974 – 6 July 1978|
|James Dunn||8 March 1974 – 14 April 1976|
|John Golding||8 March 1974 – 18 October 1974|
|Tom Pendry||8 March 1974 – 18 January 1977|
|James Hamilton||8 March 1974 – 28 June 1974|
|Michael Cocks||28 June 1974 – 8 April 1976|
|Jack Dormand||18 October 1974 – 4 May 1979|
|David Stoddart||4 April 1976 – 18 November 1977|
|Edward Graham||14 April 1976 – 4 May 1979|
|Tom Cox||19 January 1977 – 4 May 1979|
|Peter Snape||23 November 1977 – 4 May 1979|
|Albert Stallard||5 July 1978 – 17 January 1979|
|Alfred Bates||17 January 1979 – 4 May 1979|
|Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs||James Callaghan||5 March 1974|
|Anthony Crosland||8 April 1976|
|David Owen||21 February 1977|
|Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs||David Ennals||7 March 1974 – 8 April 1976|
|Roy Hattersley||7 March 1974 – 10 September 1976|
|The Lord Goronwy-Roberts||4 December 1975 – 4 May 1979|
|Ted Rowlands||14 April 1976 – 4 May 1979|
|David Owen||10 September 1976 – 21 February 1977|
|Frank Judd||21 February 1977 – 4 May 1979|
|Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs||Joan Lestor||8 March 1974 – 12 June 1975|
|The Lord Goronwy-Roberts||8 March 1974 – 4 December 1975|
|Ted Rowlands||12 June 1975 – 14 April 1976|
|John Tomlinson||17 March 1976 – 4 May 1979||Also Overseas Development|
|Evan Luard||14 April 1976 – 4 May 1979|
|Minister for Overseas Development||Judith Hart||7 April 1974||Subordinated to Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs 10 June 1975|
|Minister of Overseas Development||Reginald Prentice||10 June 1975|
|Frank Judd||21 December 1976|
|Judith Hart||21 February 1977|
|Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Overseas Development||William Price||11 March 1974|
|John Grant||18 October 1974|
|Frank Judd||14 April 1976|
|John Tomlinson||3 January 1977|
|Secretary of State for the Home Department||Roy Jenkins||5 March 1974|
|Merlyn Rees||10 September 1976|
|Minister of State for Home Affairs||The Lord Harris||8 March 1974 – 3 January 1979|
|Alex Lyon||8 March 1974 – 14 April 1976|
|Brynmor John||14 April 1976 – 4 May 1979|
|The Lord Boston||3 January 1979 – 4 May 1979|
|Under-Secretary of State for Home Affairs||Shirley Summerskill||8 March 1974|
|Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food||Fred Peart||5 March 1974|
|John Silkin||10 September 1976|
|Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food||Norman Buchan||8 March 1974|
|Edward Stanley Bishop||18 October 1974|
|Parliamentary Secretary to Agriculture, Fisheries and Food||Roland Moyle||11 March 1974|
|Edward Stanley Bishop||28 June 1974|
|Gavin Strang||18 October 1974|
|Secretary of State for Defence||Roy Mason||4 March 1974|
|Frederick Mulley||10 September 1976|
|Minister of State for Defence||William Rodgers||4 March 1974|
|John Gilbert||10 September 1976|
|Under-Secretary of State for the Navy||Frank Judd||8 March 1974|
|Patrick Duffy||14 April 1976|
|Under-Secretary of State for the Air Force||Brynmor John||8 March 1974|
|James Wellbeloved||14 April 1976|
|Under-Secretary of State for the Army||Desmond Brayley||4 March 1974|
|Robert Brown||18 October 1974|
|Secretary of State for Education and Science||Reginald Prentice||5 March 1974|
|Frederick Mulley||10 June 1975|
|Shirley Williams||10 September 1976|
|Minister of State, Education and Science||Gerald Fowler||8 March 1974|
|Norman Crowther Hunt||18 October 1974|
|Gerald Fowler||23 January 1976|
|Gordon Oakes||10 September 1976|
|Under-Secretary of State, Education and Science||Ernest Armstrong||7 March 1974|
|Joan Lestor||12 June 1975|
|Margaret Jackson||12 March 1976|
|Secretary of State for Employment||Michael Foot||5 March 1974|
|Albert Booth||8 April 1976|
|Minister of State, Employment||Albert Booth||8 March 1976|
|Harold Walker||14 April 1976|
|Under-Secretary of State, Employment||John Fraser||8 March 1974 – 14 April 1976|
|Harold Walker||8 March 1974 – 14 April 1976|
|John Golding||14 April 1976 – 4 May 1979|
|John Grant||14 April 1976 – 4 May 1979|
|Secretary of State for Energy||Eric Varley||5 March 1974|
|Tony Benn||10 May 1975|
|Minister of State, Energy||Thomas Balogh||7 March 1974|
|John Smith||4 December 1975|
|Dickson Mabon||14 April 1976|
|Under-Secretary of State, Energy||Gavin Strang||7 March 1974 – 18 October 1974|
|Alex Eadie||7 March 1974 – 4 May 1979|
|John Smith||18 October 1974 – 4 December 1975|
|The Lord Lovell-Davis||4 December 1975 – 14 April 1976|
|Gordon Oakes||14 April 1976 – 10 September 1976|
|Jack Cunningham||10 September 1976 – 4 May 1979|
|Secretary of State for the Environment||Anthony Crosland||5 March 1974|
|Peter Shore||8 April 1976|
|Minister of State, Urban Affairs||Charles Morris||7 March 1974 – 18 October 1974|
|Minister of State (Sport, Recreation and Water Resources)||Denis Howell||7 March 1974 – 4 May 1979|
|Under-Secretary of State, Environment||Gerald Kaufman||8 March 1974 – 12 June 1975|
|Neil Carmichael||8 March 1974 – 4 December 1975|
|Gordon Oakes||8 March 1974 – 14 April 1976|
|Alma Birk||18 October 1974 – 3 January 1979|
|Ernest Armstrong||12 June 1975 – 4 May 1979|
|Guy Barnett||5 December 1975 – 4 May 1979|
|Kenneth Marks||14 April 1976 – 4 May 1979|
|Phyllis Stedman||3 January 1979 – 4 May 1979|
|Minister for Planning and Local Government||John Silkin||7 March 1974||In Cabinet from 18 October 1974. Office abolished 10 September 1976|
|Minister for Transport||Fred Mulley||7 March 1974|
|John Gilbert||12 June 1975||Separate department and Cabinet Minister from 10 September 1976|
|Minister for Housing and Construction||Reg Freeson||7 March 1974|
|Secretary of State for Social Services||Barbara Castle||5 March 1974|
|David Ennals||8 April 1976|
|Minister of State, Health and Social Security||Brian O'Malley||8 March 1974 – 6 April 1976|
|David Owen||26 July 1974 – 10 September 1976|
|Stan Orme||8 April 1976 – 4 May 1979||In Cabinet as Minister for Social Security from 10 September 1976|
|Roland Moyle||10 September 1976 – 4 May 1979|
|Under-Secretary of State, Health and Social Security||David Owen||8 March 1974 – 26 July 1974|
|Robert Brown||8 March 1974 – 18 October 1974|
|Alec Jones||18 October 1974 – 12 June 1975|
|Michael Meacher||12 June 1975 – 14 April 1976|
|Eric Deakins||14 April 1976 – 4 May 1979|
|The Lord Wells-Pestell||3 January 1979 – 4 May 1979|
|Under-Secretary of State, Disabled Industry||Alf Morris||11 March 1974 – 4 May 1979|
|Secretary of State for Industry||Tony Benn||5 March 1974||Also Minister for Posts and Telecommunications 7–29 March 1974|
|Eric Varley||10 June 1975|
|Minister of State, Industry||Eric Heffer||7 March 1974 – 9 April 1975|
|The Lord Beswick||11 March 1974 – 4 December 1975|
|Gerald Kaufman||4 December 1975 – 14 April 1976|
|Alan Williams||14 April 1976 – 4 May 1979|
|Under-Secretary of State, Industry||Gregor Mackenzie||7 March 1974 – 10 June 1975|
|Michael Meacher||7 March 1974 – 12 June 1975|
|Gerald Kaufman||12 June 1975 – 4 December 1975|
|The Lord Melchett||4 December 1975 – 10 September 1976|
|Neil Carmichael||4 December 1975 – 14 April 1976|
|Les Huckfield||4 April 1976 – 4 May 1979|
|Bob Cryer||10 September 1976 – 20 November 1978|
|Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster||Harold Lever||5 March 1974|
|Secretary of State for Northern Ireland||Merlyn Rees||5 March 1974|
|Roy Mason||10 September 1976|
|Minister of State, Northern Ireland||Stan Orme||7 March 1974 – 8 April 1976|
|Roland Moyle||27 June 1974 – 10 September 1976|
|Don Concannon||14 April 1976 – 4 May 1979|
|The Lord Melchett||10 September 1976 – 4 May 1979|
|Under-Secretary of State, Northern Ireland||The Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge||4 March 1974 – 5 April 1976|
|Don Concannon||27 June 1974 – 5 April 1976|
|James Dunn||5 April 1976 – 4 May 1979|
|Raymond Carter||5 April 1976 – 4 May 1979|
|Tom Pendry||11 November 1978 – 4 May 1979|
|Paymaster General||Edmund Dell||7 March 1974|
|Shirley Williams||5 April 1976|
|Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection||Shirley Williams||4 March 1974|
|Roy Hattersley||10 September 1976|
|Minister of State, Prices and Consumer Protection||Alan Williams||4 March 1974|
|John Fraser||5 April 1976|
|Under-Secretary of State, Prices and Consumer Protection||Robert Maclennan||4 March 1974|
|Secretary of State for Scotland||William Ross||4 March 1974|
|Bruce Millan||5 April 1976|
|Minister of State for Scotland||Bruce Millan||4 March 1974 – 5 April 1976|
|The Lord Hughes||4 March 1974 – 8 August 1975|
|The Lord Kirkhill||8 August 1975 – 15 December 1978|
|Gregor Mackenzie||5 April 1976 – 4 May 1979|
|Under-Secretary of State for Scotland||Robert Hughes||4 March 1974 – 22 July 1975|
|Hugh Brown||27 June 1974 – 4 May 1979|
|Harry Ewing||18 October 1974 – 4 May 1979|
|Frank McElhone||22 July 1975 – 4 May 1979|
|Secretary of State for Trade||Peter Shore||4 March 1974|
|Edmund Dell||5 April 1976|
|John Smith||11 November 1978|
|Under-Secretary of State for Trade||Eric Deakins||4 March 1974 – 5 April 1976|
|Clinton Davis||4 March 1974 – 4 May 1979|
|Michael Meacher||5 April 1976 – 4 May 1979|
|Secretary of State for Transport||William Rodgers||10 September 1976|
|Under-Secretary of State for Transport||John Horam||10 September 1976|
|Secretary of State for Wales||John Morris||4 March 1974|
|Under-Secretary of State for Wales||Ted Rowlands||4 March 1974 – 12 June 1975|
|Barry Jones||4 March 1974 – 4 May 1979|
|Alec Jones||12 June 1975 – 4 May 1979|
|Attorney General||Samuel Silkin||4 March 1974|
|Solicitor General||Peter Archer||4 March 1974|
|Parliamentary Secretary to the Law Officers||Arthur Davidson||4 March 1974|
|Lord Advocate||Ronald King Murray||4 March 1974|
|Solicitor General for Scotland||John McCluskey||4 March 1974|
|Treasurer of the Household||Walter Harrison||4 March 1974|
|Comptroller of the Household||Joseph Harper||4 March 1974|
|James Hamilton||6 July 1978|
|Vice-Chamberlain of the Household||Don Concannon||4 March 1974|
|James Hamilton||27 June 1974|
|Donald Coleman||6 July 1978|
|Captain of the Gentlemen at Arms||The Baroness Llewellyn-Davies||4 March 1974|
|Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard||The Lord Strabolgi||4 March 1974|
|Lords-in-Waiting||The Lord Jacques||4 March 1974 – 19 January 1977, 11 January 1979 – 4 May 1979|
|The Lord Garnsworthy||4 March 1974 – 4 September 1974|
|The Baroness Birk||4 March 1974 – 18 October 1974|
|The Lord Wells-Pestell||4 March 1974 – 11 January 1979|
|The Lord Winterbottom||18 October 1974 – 27 October 1978|
|The Lord Lovell-Davis||18 October 1974 – 4 December 1975|
|The Lord Melchett||18 October 1974 – 4 December 1975|
|The Baroness Stedman||4 December 1975 – 11 January 1979|
|The Lord Oram||23 January 1976 – 23 March 1978|
|The Lord Wallace of Coslany||19 January 1977 – 4 May 1979|
|The Lord Leonard||27 October 1978 – 4 May 1979|
|The Baroness David of Romsey||27 October 1978 – 4 May 1979|
- Kenneth O. Morgan (2001). Britain Since 1945: The People's Peace. p. 437.
- Taxation, Wage Bargaining, and Unemployment by Isabela Mares
- New Labour, Old Labour: The Wilson and Callaghan Governments, 1974–79 edited by Anthony Seldon and Kevin Hickson
- Labour in power? A study of the Labour Government 1974–1979 by David Coates
- Labour's First Century by Duncan Tanner, Pat Thane, and Nick Tiratsoo
- Poverty and the development of anti-poverty policy in the United Kingdom: a report to the Commission of the European Communities by Richard Berthoud, Joan C. Brown and Steven Cooper, Commission of the European Communities, Policy Studies Institute
- Labour and Inequality: A Fabian Study of Labour in Power, 1974-79 edited by Nick Bosanquet and Peter Townsend
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|Government of the United Kingdom
| Succeeded by|
First Thatcher ministry