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3. Policy, 1965-1970


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Material in this section typically comprises correspondence from Heath and between his Private Office and the Conservative Research Department (CRD), and includes CRD briefs and other memoranda.


  • Creation: 1965-1970

Language of Materials

  • English

Biographical / Historical

After the Conservatives' 1964 election defeat, Douglas-Home appointed Edward Heath as chairman of the Advisory Committee on Policy (ACP) with responsibility for overseeing a major review of the Party's policies. Twenty policy study groups were set up consisting of Conservative MPs and peers, members of the Party outside Parliament, outside experts from universities, the professions, industry, trade and finance. The chairman of each group was normally a member of the Shadow Cabinet.

Recommendation from these policy study groups were to be sent to Heath, then to the ACP, then to the Shadow Cabinet and finally to the Leader of the Party, who would take the final decision on whether or not to accept them as official Party policy.

James Douglas in the Conservative Research Department (CRD) coordinated the policy review exercise, in conjunction with Brendon Sewill, Director of CRD, and individual CRD desk officers provided secretarial support for the policy group relevant to their own area of expertise, taking the minutes, arranging meetings, etc. Michael Fraser, then Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party and secretary to the Shadow Cabinet, was also prominently involved.

When Heath became Leader of the Conservative Party in July 1965 he retained the chairmanship of the ACP but in practice Edward Boyle MP, Deputy Chairman of the ACP, took on the day-to-day management of the policy review from at least November 1965 until Reginald Maudling MP replaced Heath as Chairman in December 1968. However, Heath maintained a close involvement throughout, hence the quantity of material relating to the policy review within his private papers.

The policy groups' reports fed into the Conservatives' policy statement published in the Autumn of 1965: Putting Britain Right Ahead and summarised in the Conservative Party's 1966 election manifesto, Action not Words.

Most of the policy groups in existence before the 1966 election were re-convened, and additional groups were set up, and the policy review continued right up until the 1970 General Election.

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom