Resignation Honours List

1976 Prime Minister's Resignation Honours

The 1976 Prime Minister's Resignation Honours were announced on 27 May 1976 to mark the resignation of Prime Minister Harold Wilson. The list of honours became known satirically as the "Lavender List".


The list caused controversy as a number of recipients were wealthy businessmen whose principles were considered antipathetic to those held by the Labour Party at the time.

Roy Jenkins notes that Wilson's retirement "was disfigured by his, at best, eccentric resignation honours list, which gave peerages or knighthoods to some adventurous business gentlemen, several of whom were close neither to him nor to the Labour Party.

One businessman on the list, Lord Kagan, was convicted of fraud in 1980; Sir Eric Miller, committed suicide while under investigation for fraud in 1977. Another beneficiary was the buccaneering financier James Goldsmith. Other names on the list such as actor John Mills were, however, uncontroversial. Despite the notoriety of the names, both of Wilson's academic biographers, Professor Ben Pimlott and Philip Ziegler, stress that there was never any question at the time or subsequently of financial impropriety in the drawing up of the list.

The origin of the name "Lavender List" derived from the claim made by former press secretary and journalist Joe Haines that that the head of Wilson's political office, Marcia Williams, had written the original draft on lavender-coloured notepaper. No documentary evidence has been proferred to support this claim and Wilson and Williams denied it.

According to a letter from Edith Summerskill published in The Times on 27 May 1977, the members of the Political Honours Scrutiny Committee "...were astounded when we read the list of proposed honours. We told the civil servant present that we could not approve of a least half of the list, and would he see that this was conveyed to the Prime Minister", and that "... it astonished us to find that, with one exception, the original list of recipients was published unchanged." But she comments that "we were in fact faced with a fait accompli which we had no power to upset.

Political and Public Services List

The recipients of honours are displayed here as they were styled before their new honour, and arranged by honour.

Life Peer

Privy Councillor

Companion of Honour


Companion of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)

Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)

British Empire Medal

Private Office List

Life Peer


Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)

British Empire Medal


The Lavender List is a UK television docudrama broadcast on BBC Four in March 2006 about the events that led to the drafting of the 1976 Resignation Honours.

See also


  • The Times, Thursday, May 27, 1976; pg. 2; Issue 59714; col B: "Sir Harold's resignation honours list in full".


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