Pliatzky, Leo 1919-1999

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PLIATZKY, Leo 1919-1999


Born August 22, 1919, in Salford, England; died May 4, 1999; son of a tailor; married Marian Jean Elias, 1948 (died 1979); children: one son, one daughter. Education: Corpus Christi College, Oxford degree (classics; first class honors), 1939, advanced degree (philosophy, politics, and economics; first class honors), 1946.


Fabian Society, London, England, research secretary, 1946-47; British Civil Service, London, England, Ministry of Food, staff member, 1947-50, Ministry of the Treasury, staff member beginning 1950, then undersecretary, 1967, deputy secretary, 1971, and second permanent secretary, 1976, permanent secretary of Department of Trade, 1977-79; retired 1980. Board member of British Airways, 1980-84; Associated Communications Corporation Ltd., director 1980-82; Central Independent Television, board member, 1981-89; Ultramar, board member, 1981-90. Chair of Industry Working Party on Production of Television Commercials, 1986-89; visiting professor at City University, 1980-84; associated fellow, London School of Economics, 1982-85; senior resident fellow, Policy Studies Institute, 1983-84; History of Parliament Trust trustee, 1982-99, treasurer, 1983-94; governor of Charles Dickens Primary School, 1996-97. Actively supported Camphill Village Trust (residential charity for the mentally handicapped). Military service: Served with Royal Army Ordnance Corps and Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, in Egypt and Italy, 1940-45 (mentioned in dispatches).


Reform Club.


Knighted, 1972; made Knight Commander of the British Empire, 1977; honorary fellow, Corpus Christi College, Oxford, 1980; D.Litt., Salford University, 1986.


Getting and Spending: Public Expenditure, Employment, and Inflation, Blackwell (Oxford, England), 1982, revised, 1984.

Paying and Choosing: The Intelliqent Person's Guide to the Mixed Economy, Blackwell (New York, NY), 1985.

The Treasury under Mrs. Thatcher, Blackwell (New York, NY), 1989.

Associated with report by Industry Working Party on Production of Television Commercials, 1987.


During a career in the British Civil Service that spanned more than three decades, Leo Pliatzky served in the Ministry of Food and Department of Trade. However, as a London Times contributor remembered, "Pliatzky's reputation as one of Whitehall's most formidable figures had been forged over a quarter of a century at the Treasury."

"The part he played in the [mid-1970s International Monetary Fund] negotiations is regarded by some friends as his finest hour, but he is best remembered in Whitehall for his introduction of cash limits and the battles which were subsequently fought with the big spending ministries," stated the Times contributor, who described Pliatzky as "a formidable force …loyal, honest friend …[and] generous family man" that had "a first-class brain …total self-belief …intransigence and [a] low boiling-point." Following his retirement from the British civil service, Pliatzky wrote three books on finance that were published during the 1980s: Getting and Spending: Public Expenditure, Employment, and Inflation; Paying and Choosing: The Intelliqent Person's Guide to the Mixed Economy; and The Treasury under Mrs. Thatcher. In addition to writing these books, Pliatzky's post-career activities during the 1980s included chairing the Industry Working Party on Production of Television Commercials; working as a visiting professor at City University, serving as an associated fellow at the London School of Economics, and as a senior resident fellow at the Policy Studies Institute. In addition, he assumed leadership positions on the boards of various organizations.



Banker November, 1985, p. 177.

Director, May, 1982, p. 20.

Economist, June 5, 1982, p. 94.

Public Administration, summer, 1990, p. 276.



Times (London, England), May 17, 1999.*