The policy processes and the decline of the British deep-mined coal industry from the mid-1960s to 1995
The thesis develops a multi-theoretic framework which has the network approach at its centre but brings in elements from rational choice and complexity theory. Policy- making in the coal industry is seen as being conducted by a number of institutions which have rational interests, are interacting in networks and are a part of complex systems. The thesis also adopts an historical approach and attempts to link the different eras in a more dynamic way than is achieved by the current literature. In two substantive chapters it is argued that: in 1967 fuel policy was captured by the economists working in the Ministry; the reversal of policy in 1974 followed the shift of the power relationships within the policy network; and that the primary objective of the Conservative Governments was the establishment of an efficient and financially viable coal industry within the context of a competitive energy market. The industry's decline to its 1995 level was neither planned nor foreseen until the early 1990s. The thesis also explores why two Plan for Coal investment programmes, 1950 and 1974, failed to halt the industry's long-run decline Indeed it is argued that the implementation of those programmes contributed its problems. It is argued that investment decisions were driven by the short-term interests of the NCB/BC Areas and collieries, often against the long-term interests of the industry. The thesis concludes that the industry was badly served by closed policy processes which failed to take account of rational interests. It also argues that Political Scientists need to include in their analysis the theoretical frameworks used by policy makers.