Roy Williams

Category: 1960s /  All Harkness Stories /  Economics, Finance & Business /  Politics & Public Services / 

Roy Williams (HF 1963-64) CB graduated in 1956 with a degree in economics from Liverpool University and was successful in the Civil Service Administrative Class competition in the same year. He joined the then Ministry of Power and served in Divisions responsible for different nationalised industries. He was awarded a Harkness Fellowship in 1963 which he spent at the University of Chicago and later University of California (Berkeley) researching the American approach to regulating public utilities. In the US these are mostly privately owned in contrast to the UK where at that time, they were in public ownership. On his return to the UK he served as Principal Private Secretary to successive Secretaries if State for Industry, including Tony Benn during the 1975 EEC referendum, and Eric Varley, and then headed the Division responsible for the Post Office and telecommunications. Later, as a Deputy Secretary (Director General), he was responsible for international trade policy, DTI relations with the EEC (now EU) and the creation of the EEC single market. He subsequently moved to take responsibility for industrial policy in DTI, which involved the 1980’s programme of privatising state owned industries. His time in the US studying the American regulatory approach was highly relevant at this time. His last Civil Service post gave him responsibility for regional policy, the promotion of enterprise and innovation and inward investment. He retired in 1993 from when he chaired the European Eureka programme, which is designed to encourage collaboration in R and D between European enterprises, was a member of the Design Council and a Trustee of various Charities, including chairing a charity caring for disabled children. He was made a Companion of the Bath (CB) in 1988.