National Enterprise Board

The National Enterprise Board (NEB) was a United Kingdom government body.


The National Enterprise Board was set up in the United Kingdom in 1975 to implement the Wilson Labour government's objective of extending public ownership of industry. The plans were outlined in the 1974 White Paper The Regeneration of British Industry and the Industry Act 1975 enacted these measures, establishing the NEB.[1]

Its primary role was that of holding a substantial level of equity in major manufacturing companies.[2] It took equity in various companies including British Leyland, Rolls Royce, Alfred Herbert, Sinclair Radionics and Ferranti.[3] One of the first tasks of the NEB was the production of the Ryder Report, named after the NEB's new chairman, Lord Ryder, on the future of British Leyland.[4]

The memory and microprocessor company Inmos was set up by the NEB in 1978.[5]

After the Conservative Party took power in 1979 under Margaret Thatcher's leadership, the NEB's powers began to be eroded. The last Labour-appointed chairman of the NEB was Sir Leslie Murphy, who resigned with his entire board when Sir Keith Joseph (the new industry minister) decided to remove its responsibility for the government's holding in Rolls-Royce later that year.[6]

The next chairman was Sir Arthur Knight who was content to lose a number of companies, but strongly supported the Inmos microchip project. However he eventually became frustrated by the government and resigned in November 1980.[7] The 1980 Industry Act and new Guidelines had restricted the NEB role to a catalytic investment role, nationally and regionally, particularly related to advanced technology and small firms.[8]

Knight was succeeded by his deputy, Sir John King (later Lord King of Wartnaby), who proceeded, with some vigour, to dismantle most of the board's remaining activities.[9]

In 1981, under the chairmanship of Sir Frederick Wood, the NEB was combined with the National Research Development Corporation (NRDC) to form the British Technology Group (BTG).[10]

In 1992 BTG was transferred to the private sector and in 1995 listed on the London stock exchange as BTG plc, when it became a leading technology transfer company that commercialised intellectual property acquired from research organisations and companies around the world.[11]

List of chairmen

See also


  1. "The Labour Party Manifesto: October 1974". Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  2. "National Enterprise Board". Cabinet Papers. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  3. Ferranti Timeline Archived 3 October 2015 at the Wayback MachineMuseum of Science and Industry (Accessed 22-02-2012)
  4. "The Ryder Report". Archived from the original on 2014-03-13.
  5. Wayne Sandholtz (1992) "High-Tech Europe: The Politics of International Cooperation." Berkeley: University of California Press p. 155
  6. "Obituary: Sir Leslie Murphy". The Guardian. 10 October 2007. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  7. "Obituary: Sir Arthur Knight". The Telegraph. 10 April 2003. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  8. "National Enterprise Board". They Work for You. 19 July 1979. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  9. "Lord King of Wartnaby". The Guardian. 13 July 2005. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  10. Abstract of Department of Trade and Industry report "Monitoring of British Technology Group"
  11. Overview of BTG International's history Archived 2006-08-26 at the Wayback Machine
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