John Henry Whitley
|The Right Honourable
John Henry Whitley
|John Henry Whitley in 1915|
|Speaker of the House of Commons|
|Preceded by||James William Lowther|
|Succeeded by||Edward FitzRoy|
|Member of Parliament
8 February 1866|
Halifax, West Yorkshire
|Died||3 February 1935
Halifax, West Yorkshire
|Resting place||Lister Lane Cemetery, Halifax
|Alma mater||Clifton College|
John Henry Whitley (1866–1935), often known as J. H. Whitley, was a respected and successful British politician whose life and career spanned a period of significant social change, from roots in the heart of the Industrial Revolution through to the inter-war period.
Family and early career
Whitley was born in Halifax, Yorkshire, on 8 February 1866 son of Nathan Whitley (1830–1889) from Ovenden. Nathan went on to serve as Mayor of Halifax (1876–1877), succeeding Edward Crossley, son of another local carpet manufacturer, John Crossley.
After an early education boarding at Wiseman's House, Clifton College, John Henry entered his uncle, Samuel Whitley's cotton spinning business, S. Whitley & Co. at Hanson Lane Mills, Skircoat, Halifax. Nathan was a partner in the business and took over after Samuel's death in 1884.
In 1892, John Henry married Margherita (Margaret) Virginia Marchetti. Margherita was born in Putney in 1872, a daughter of Italian, Julian (Giulio) Marchetti, who had served as an Officer under Garibaldi before settling in England to marry Anne Crossley in Halifax in 1871 and take his place in the carpet manufacturing business.
John and Margherita had two daughters and two sons; Margaret Phyllis 1895, Percival Nathan 1894, Monica Virginia 1903 and Oliver John 1912. Margherita died in 1925 and John Henry remarried in 1928 to Helen Clarke in Chelsea.
John Henry became Liberal Member of Parliament (MP) for Halifax in 1900, a seat he held until he resigned in 1928. He served as Junior Lord of the Treasury from 1907 to 1910 in the Liberal Government 1905-1915. He was appointed Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means 1910–1911, Privy Counsellor in 1911 and he held the role of Chairman of Ways and Means, Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, from 1911–1921.
During World War I, in 1917, Whitley was appointed to chair a committee to report on 'the Relations of Employers and Employees' in the wake of the establishment of the shop stewards movement and the widespread protest action against dilution. The smooth running of industry was vital to the war effort so maintaining good industrial relations was a priority.
He proposed a system of regular formal consultative meetings between workers and employers, known to this day as "Whitley Councils". These would be empowered to cover any issue related to pay and conditions of service, and to take matters through to arbitration if necessary. This was a strong model which was to influence industrial relations beyond the UK.
The intention was to establish Whitley councils in the private sector, in particular in those industries most affected by the strike wave – to offset the demand for 'Workers' control' – a demand which was rapidly gaining ground after the Russian revolution.
However, the councils failed to gain ground in coal, cotton, engineering and other heavy industries, but succeeded only in the sphere of government employment where they remain a major feature of public sector industrial relations to this day.
Whitley was appointed Speaker of the House of Commons in 1921, a post he held until 1928, when he resigned due to ill health. He refused the customary peerage offered by the monarch – breaking a tradition that had originated in 1789.
Despite resigning as MP and Speaker, his political work continued. He chaired the Royal Commission on Labour in India, which reported in 1931. The report surprised many by concurring with the criticisms of Mahatma Gandhi and others that poverty was the cause of India's social and industrial problems. It was also critical of British employers' role in perpetuating the problems.
His friendship with John Reith led to his appointment as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the BBC in 1930. In 1932, he made the first broadcast on the Empire Service, which developed into the World Service. He held the Chairmanship until his death.
Death and burial
- Whitley, John Henry (1918). The Great Alternative; Saner Politics or Revolution. ISBN 1-154-17365-8.
- Whitley, John Henry (1918). Chapman, S.J., ed. (Introduction): Labor and Capital after the War. p. 296. ISBN 978-1-104-21032-8.
The John Henry Whitley archive
- "Royal Academy of Arts Collections - Person". Royal Academy of Arts. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
- "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. March 1866. Retrieved 26 June 2010.
- "Clifton College - Upper - Houses - Wiseman's House". Clifton College. Retrieved 16 May 2010.
- "Mr Speaker, a son of Halifax". Halifax Courier. 28 June 2009. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
- "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. June 1892. Retrieved 26 June 2010.
- "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. September 1872. Retrieved 26 June 2010.
- "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Jun 1871. Retrieved 26 June 2010.
- "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. June 1895. Retrieved 26 June 2010.
- "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. December 1893. Retrieved 26 June 2010.
- "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. December 1903. Retrieved 26 June 2010.
- "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Mar 1912. Retrieved 26 June 2010.
- "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. December 1925. Retrieved 26 June 2010.
- Bull, Malcolm (ed.). "Malcolm Bull's Calderdale Companion". Retrieved 11 May 2006.
- "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. September 1928. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
- Macrae-Gibson, J. H. (1922). "The Whitley system in the civil service". The Fabian Society. Archived from the original
|url=(help) on 18 March 2010. Retrieved 18 May 2010.
- "GREAT BRITAIN New Speaker". Time. 2 July 1928. Retrieved 11 May 2006.
- "National Portrait Gallery - Portrait - NPG 4799; John Henry Whitley". National Portrait Gallery. 1924. Retrieved 11 May 2006.
- "Artwork - John Henry Whitley [ 1866-1935 Speaker ] - UK Parliament". Art in Parliament. 1929. Retrieved 15 May 2010.
- "St. Gandhi Yessed". Time. 13 July 1931. Retrieved 11 May 2006.
- "The BBC Story: BBC Chairmen Listing" (PDF). BBC. Retrieved 11 May 2006.
- "Lister Lane Cemetery - People". Friends of Lister Lane Cemetery. Retrieved 11 May 2006.
- "Historic political archive finds home in Huddersfield". Huddersfield Daily Examiner. 29 December 2012.
- Devenney, Amy (2012). "New Deposits of the University of Huddersfield Archives and Special Collections". Huddersfield Local History Society Journal: 40–42.
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by John Whitley
- Portraits of John Henry Whitley at the National Portrait Gallery, London
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
Alfred Billson and
|Member of Parliament for Halifax
With: Sir Savile Crossley, to 1906
James Parker, 1906–1918
one seat from 1918
|Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means
Sir Donald Maclean
|Chairman of Ways and Means
James William Lowther
|Speaker of the House of Commons
|Chairman of the BBC Board of Governors