17 July 1970: With dockers giving almost total support to the strike, the government decided to invoke the Emergency Powers Act of 1920
A state of emergency was proclaimed yesterday by the Queen as the national dock strike brought complete disruption to the ports. Soon afterwards, the Government announced the setting up of a Court of Inquiry into the dispute. No final decision on its chairman has yet been made, but a strong candidate is Lord Pearson, who accepted a similar assignment during the seaman’s strike of 1966.
Mr Jack Jones, of the Transport and General Workers’ Union, received both announcements with unconcealed disapproval. He questioned the wisdom of sending troops into the docks, and said the unions would be willing to give evidence to the court, “but without obligation.” From now on, however, the unions would continue to develop the “full strength of the strike.”