Conclusions of Cabinet Meetings 1-38 (1983)

  • Catalogue ref: CAB 128/76
  • Date: 1983 January 20 - 1983 December 22

A complete record of Cabinet meetings held during 1983, including a summary of the discussions and conclusions drawn. The Cabinet met on Thursday 27 October to discuss the US invasion of Grenada. FCO Minister Baroness Young said the British government had no knowledge of a request from the Governor General on the island, Sir Paul Scorn, for military intervention and there was 'no firm evidence' that one had been made. The Minister for the Armed Forces reported that there had been 'intensive contact' between the British Embassy in Washington and the US administration over the weekend of 22-23 October and the Americans had given 'no indication' that a decision was imminent. Concern was expressed at the failure of the United States to take the British Government into its confidence about plans which 'must have been prepared well in advance'. Although the Americans believed the intervention was politically justified it was 'hard to defend in terms of international law'. There was 'no comparison with Britain's military action in the Falkland Islands which had been taken in defence of international law and to protect British citizens'. The American action had 'struck a powerful anti-American chord' with British public opinion and had also upset the Government's own supporters. However, concluding the discussion, the Prime Minister said Britain's friendship with the United States 'must on no account be jeopardised'. At a subsequent meeting, on 3 November, the Foreign Secretary, Geoffrey Howe, revealed that the failure of the US government to consult with Britain had been 'due largely to preoccupation with the terrorist attack on the United States force in Lebanon on 23 October'.

Most Confidential Records: CC(83) minute extracts

  • Catalogue ref: CAB 128/77
  • Date: 1983 February 3 - 1983 November 10

Confidential Annexes filed separately because of particular sensitivity including five on the future of Hong Kong, as well as further notes on the budget, public expenditure and long term economic prospects.

Cabinet Memoranda: papers 1-12 (1983)

  • Catalogue ref: CAB 129/216
  • Date: 1983 January 13 - 1983 May 6

This file includes a memorandum on economic strategy from the Chancellor and a memorandum on the 1983-84 legislative programme. It also includes a comprehensive statement on Defence estimates for 1983 and beyond which includes a breakdown of nuclear forces across the East/West divide.

Cabinet Memoranda: papers 13-36 (1983)

  • Catalogue ref: CAB 129/217
  • Date: 1983 May 6 - 1983 December 13

This file includes memos on the abolition of the Greater London Council (GLC), trade union legislation, public expenditure and electoral abuse in Northern Ireland.

Nuclear Defence Policy: meetings 1-3

  • Catalogue ref: CAB 130/1224
  • Date: 1983 January 27 - 1983 March 28

Discussions on options to change the control arrangement for US Ground launched cruise missiles based in the UK and whether there could be a dual key system with one part under British control, or if Britain should own the whole missile system and staff it with British personnel. There was concern that if Britain had physical control it would be more costly and could also be seen as 'evidence of distrust of American intentions'. It is noted there would be 'damaging consequences for the Alliance' if the UK re-opened the issue of control. On the idea of dual control it was thought that in the unlikely event of a crisis and the US did not fulfil its obligations to consult with the UK Government, British personnel could as a 'last resort' be ordered to take action which would make it 'virtually impossible for the Americans to launch their weapons'. The file notes continued concerns over public attitudes toward deployment making it necessary to explain the extent of public opposition to US Vice President Bush. A March minute notes possible demonstrations at military bases over the Easter weekend and notes that although police were well prepared it could pose a problem for the prison service if a large amount of women were arrested as there was a shortage of women prison officers.

Security Policy and Methods Committee: meeting 1, papers 1-32

  • Catalogue ref: CAB 134/4752
  • Date: 1983 February 14 - 1983 August 2

This file contains 'State of Security Assessments' for a large number of countries including Iran, Iraq, Ethiopia, France, Greece, Burma, Cyprus, Ghana, Colombia, Egypt, Ireland, Japan, Jamaica and others. The State of Security Assessment forms summarise the UK's relationship with each country and include notes on the 'mission of communist countries' noting which communist countries have intelligence officers based in that territory and the number of officers known and suspected. The forms include questions such as 'Are intelligence services hostile to the UK active in this country?' and 'Have they penetrated the country's institutions?'

Security Policy and Methods Committee: papers 33-67

  • Catalogue ref: CAB 134/4753
  • Date: 1983 February 14 - 1983 August 2

An entire book of 'State of Security Assessments' including Pakistan, Barbados, Israel, Indonesia, Uganda, South Africa, Sudan, Bolivia, Malta, Syria, China, Nigeria and more.

Arrangements for briefing a new Prime Minister in the event of a change of administration following the 1983 General Election: draft briefs on nuclear forces

  • Catalogue ref: CAB 196/123
  • Date: 1983 April 26 - 1983 June 8

The file contains a list of actions required after a general election if there is a new administration including an 'affirmation' agreement with the US. There is a summary of nuclear weapons systems and a note on the 'No First Use of Nuclear Weapons' (NOFUN) policy. The Soviet Union had declared they would never be the first to use nuclear weapons but NATO 'was not able to accept NOFUN'. The file notes that the Soviet Union was assessed to have over 300,000 tons of nerve agent. There are briefings on armaments, chemical and biological weapons, Polaris, Chevaline and Trident.

Arrangements for briefing a new Prime Minister in the event of a change of administration following the 1983 General Election: draft minute on Anglo-Irish relations and Northern Ireland and draft brief on nuclear release procedures and related matters

  • Catalogue ref: CAB 196/124
  • Date: 1983 May 26 - 1983 May 26

The file contains a briefing for the Prime Minister about the procedure to be followed during a period of tension or conventional war before strategic nuclear attack. The Prime Minister would appoint nuclear deputies. There would be a dispersal of groups of ministers or officials called 'pebble groups'. Each pebble group would be an embryo central government headed by a senior minister. If London were destroyed the senior surviving minister would take over the surviving central government. Individuals were not to be informed in peacetime of their selection to pebble groups. The file discusses the 'last resort' and the procedures to be applied 'if this country were attacked in circumstances where the normal NATO command arrangements were ineffective for whatever reason, and all organised government was destroyed'. For example, a nuclear attack in which neither deputies nor pebble groups survived. If there was evidence of a nuclear attack and all naval and Polaris broadcasts were silent for four hours - a sealed envelope held by all Polaris submarine commanders was to be opened. The envelope contained further instructions and laid down conditions under which another sealed envelope from the Prime Minister should be opened.