Speeches, etc.

Margaret Thatcher

Letters to & from persons leaving the Government (Atkins, Carrington, Luce)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: No.10 Downing Street
Source: Thatcher Archive
Editorial comments:

This item contains MT’s letters to (1) Humphrey Atkins MP, (2) Lord Carrington, and (3) Richard Luce MP. It also includes their resignation letters to MT. Copies also to be found in PREM19/614. Originals are in PREM5/567.

Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 1216
Themes: Foreign policy - theory and process, Foreign policy (Africa), Commonwealth (Rhodesia-Zimbabwe), Defence (Falklands), Northern Ireland, Executive (appointments)
(1) Humphrey Atkins MP

Dear Margaret,

Much of the criticism of the Government's policy on the Falkland Islands, which I do not believe to be sustainable, has been directed at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

While Peter Carrington is the Secretary of State, I as a Member of your Cabinet, share fully with him the responsibility for the conduct of Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.

That being so, I have no doubt that I should resign at the same time as Peter.

In asking you to accept my resignation, may I say how greatly I have enjoyed the privilege of serving you over the last seven years, as Chief Whip, as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and as Lord Privy Seal. May I also thank you, not only for the confidence you have shown in me over these years but also for many personal kindnesses.

You have my assurance that I will continue to give you and your Government my fullest support in everything you have set out to do.

Yours ever

Humphrey [end p1]

Dear Humphrey AtkinsHumphrey,

It is with great regret that I have received your letter of today in which you say that you wish to resign at the same time as Peter CarringtonPeter.

I understand entirely the reasons of honour which made you write as you did, and I respect you immensely for it.

It is with the greatest of regret that I accept your resignation. You were my Chief Whip for four years, and then you unflinchingly accepted the heavy burden of office of Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when I asked you to take it up in 1979. In that post you stood firm throughout, and especially in the darkest moments of the hunger strikes. Since then you have served the Government and the country with great skill as Lord Privy Seal. You have given your country service of the utmost value, and I have no doubt that you will continue to do so in future.

I am much strengthened by the assurance of your continuing support. It is a great encouragement to me at this time that I can count on it in the weeks and months to come, just as I have always done in the past.

Yours ever


[end p2] (2) Lord Carrington

Dear Margaret,

The Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands has led to strong criticism in Parliament and in the press of the Government's policy. In my view, much of the criticism is unfounded. But I have been responsible for the conduct of that policy and I think it right that I should resign. As you know, I have given long and careful thought to this. I warmly appreciate the kindness and support which you showed me when we discussed this matter on Saturday. But the fact remains that the invasion of the Falkland Islands has been a humiliating affront to this country.

We must now, as you said in the House of Commons, do everything we can to uphold the right of the Islanders to live in peace, to choose their own way of life and to determine their own allegiance. I am sure that this is the right course, and one which deserves the undivided support of Parliament and of the country. But I have concluded with regret that this support will more easily be maintained if the Foreign Office is entrusted to someone else.

I have been privileged to be a member of this Government and to be associated with its achievements over the past three years. I need hardly say that the Government will continue to have my active support. I am most grateful to you personally for the unfailing confidence you have shown in me.

Yours ever

Peter [end p3]

Dear Lord CarringtonPeter,

It was with very great regret that I heard this morning of your unalterable decision to resign your office as Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. You explained to me very clearly why you thought that, as the Minister responsible for the Government's policy towards the Falkland Islands, you should, in honour, leave the Government at the present time.

I did my utmost throughout Saturday and Sunday to dissuade you from this course; and so did other friends. I have been unsuccessful, and it is with the greatest reluctance that I accept your decision. The news of your resignation will be received with a heavy heart not only by your colleagues in the Cabinet but also by all those with whom you have worked at home and abroad these last three years.

You have given the nation the most outstanding service as Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary. Your achievements have been many and great. You have preserved and strengthened our very close links with the United States and you have enabled us to play our full part in the European Community. Perhaps, above all, the greatest single achievement for which you will be remembered will [end p4] be the way in which you brought Rhodesia to independence. The absence of your wisdom and your humanity, your patience and your skill from our counsels will be an immense loss for us all.

I shall find your continuing support in the weeks and months to come an enormous encouragement; and I am strengthened by the conviction that you have great service still to render our country.

Yours ever


[end p5] Richard Luce MP

My Dear Prime Minister,

I am submitting my resignation from the Government.

The Argentinian invasion of the Falkland Islands has been a humiliating setback to the people of the Islands and to the United Kingdom.

In these difficult times it is vital that the Government has the full confidence and support of the country. To this end, I believe that it will help you to have a new Minister to take my place, irrespective of whatever judgements will be made by the country of the events of the past.

I remain firmly of the view that Her Majesty's Government has an overwhelming duty to the people of the Falkland Islands. I have the fullest confidence that you will fulfil that duty.

It has been a great privilege to have served in this Government under your leadership. It has been an honour to have worked with Peter Carrington, whom I regard as an outstanding leader and one of our finest Foreign and Commonwealth Secretaries.

I need hardly say that I shall continue to give the fullest support to you and the Government in the important days ahead and for the future.

Yours ever

Richard [end p6]

Dear Richard LuceRichard,

It was with great regret that I received your letter of today submitting your resignation from the Government.

I know that you felt that you had to take this course as a matter of honour and I have every respect for your decision. I accordingly accept your resignation, though with great reluctance.

You have given valuable service to the Government and the country in the period of nearly three years you have spent as a Minister in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. It was in recognition of your considerable qualities that I appointed you as a Minister of State in September of last year. I am sure that you will have other opportunities in due course to render further service. In the meantime I am very grateful to know that the Government will continue to have your fullest support in the difficult times that lie ahead. Every good wish.

Yours ever