Richard Haldane, 1st Viscount Haldane
|The Right Honourable
The Viscount Haldane
KT OM PC KC FRS FBA FSA
|Secretary of State for War|
10 December 1905 – 12 June 1912
|Prime Minister||Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman
H. H. Asquith
|Preceded by||H. O. Arnold-Forster|
|Succeeded by||J. E. B. Seely|
10 June 1912 – 25 May 1915
|Prime Minister||H. H. Asquith|
|Preceded by||The Earl Loreburn|
|Succeeded by||The Lord Buckmaster|
22 January 1924 – 6 November 1924
|Prime Minister||Ramsay MacDonald|
|Preceded by||The Viscount Cave|
|Succeeded by||The Viscount Cave|
|Leader of the House of Lords|
22 January 1924 – 3 November 1924
|Prime Minister||Ramsay MacDonald|
|Preceded by||The Marquess Curzon of Kedleston|
|Succeeded by||The Marquess Curzon of Kedleston|
30 July 1856|
|Died||19 August 1928
|Alma mater||Göttingen University
University of Edinburgh
Richard Burdon Haldane, 1st Viscount Haldane KT, OM, PC, KC, FRS, FBA, FSA (//; 30 July 1856 – 19 August 1928), was an influential British Liberal Imperialist and later Labour politician, lawyer and philosopher. He was Secretary of State for War between 1905 and 1912 during which time the "Haldane Reforms" were implemented. Raised to the peerage as Viscount Haldane in 1911, he was Lord Chancellor between 1912 and 1915, when he was forced to resign because of his supposed and unproven German sympathies. He later joined the Labour Party and once again served as Lord Chancellor in 1924 in the first ever Labour administration. Apart from his legal and political careers, Haldane was also an influential writer on philosophy, in recognition of which he was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1914.
- 1 Background and education
- 2 Early political career
- 3 Secretary of State for War
- 4 Lord Chancellor
- 5 1914 crisis
- 6 Contribution to Canadian Constitutional Law
- 7 Other public appointments
- 8 Influence on education
- 9 Writings
- 10 Personal life
- 11 Legacy
- 12 Notes
- 13 See also
- 14 References
- 15 External links
Background and education
Haldane was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, the son of Robert Haldane and his wife Mary Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Burdon-Sanderson. He was the grandson of the Scottish evangelist James Alexander Haldane, the brother of respiratory physiologist John Scott Haldane, Sir William Haldane and author Elizabeth Haldane and the uncle of J. B. S. Haldane. He received his first education at the Edinburgh Academy and at the Göttingen University and University of Edinburgh where he received first-class honours in Philosophy and as Gray scholar and Ferguson scholar in philosophy of the four Scottish Universities.
After studying law in London, he was called to the Bar, Lincoln's Inn, in 1879, and became a successful lawyer. In 1890 he was made a Queen's Counsel. By 1905 he was earning £20,000 per annum (just over £1.6m at 2010 prices) at the Bar.
Early political career
In 1885 Haldane was elected Liberal Member of Parliament for Haddingtonshire, a seat he held until 1911. In 1902 he was admitted to the Privy Council. Haldane was an ally of Herbert Henry Asquith and Sir Edward Grey - on the Liberal Imperialist wing of the party, followers of Lord Rosebery rather than of Sir William Harcourt.
Secretary of State for War
After the Conservative government of Arthur Balfour fell in December 1905 there was some speculation that Herbert Henry Asquith and his allies Haldane and Sir Edward Grey would refuse to serve unless Campbell-Bannerman accepted a peerage, which would have left Asquith as the real leader in the House of Commons. However, the plot (called "The Relugas Compact" after the Scottish lodge where the men met) collapsed when Asquith agreed to serve as Chancellor of the Exchequer under Campbell-Bannerman. Haldane was appointed Secretary of State for War, although he may have been offered the jobs of Attorney-General and Home Secretary. (Grey became Foreign Secretary). The party won a landslide victory in the 1906 general election.
Haldane was persuaded by fellow Liberal Imperialist, Edward Grey, as early as January 1906 to begin planning for a Continental war in support of the French against the Germans. However, Haldane’s first estimates reduced the Army by 16,600 men and reduced expenditure by £2.6m to £28 million, as the Liberals had been elected on a platform of retrenchment. By 1914 Britain spent 3.4% of national income on defence, little more in absolute terms than Austria-Hungary’s 6.1%. Army expenditure was determined according to a formula devised by the Mowatt Committee. In 1900, during the Boer War, army expenditure was £86.8m, by 1910 (a low point, after four years of cuts under the Liberals) it had dropped to £27.6m and by 1914 it had risen back to £29.4m. In March 1914 effective expenditure on the Army, after allowing for increased pensions and £1m set aside for military aviation, was still less than in 1907-8, and £2m less than in 1905-6 (despite a 20% rise in prices since then).
Despite these budgetary constraints, Haldane implemented a wide-ranging set of reforms of the Army, aimed at preparing the army for an Imperial war but with the more likely (and secret) task of a European war. The main element of this was the establishment of the British Expeditionary Force of six infantry divisions and one cavalry division. The Official Historian Brigadier Edmonds later wrote that “in every respect the Expeditionary Force of 1914 was incomparably the best trained, best organised and best equipped British Army ever to leave these shores” 
Haldane set up the Imperial General Staff. Before Haldane there was only the Defence Committee of the Cabinet, which only met in emergencies, and the Colonial Defence Committee. Esher had recommended the setting up of an Army Council and the abolition of the post of Commander-in-Chief, but few of his recommendations had been implemented before the change of government in December 1905. Haldane's reforms also created the Territorial Force of 14 divisions (the original plan was for 28) and 14 mounted Yeomanry brigades at home, the Officer Training Corps and the Special Reserve.
In all these reforms Haldane worked closely at the War Office with Major-General Haig - by coincidence both men had been born in Charlotte Square in Edinburgh. J.A.Spender later wrote of how Haldane got the best work out of an able but verbally incoherent soldier (thought to refer to Haig) by not scoring verbal points off him as many politicians would have done.
Haldane was also instrumental in the creation the Advisory Committee for Aeronautics in 1909, which provided the fledgling aircraft industry in the United Kingdom with a sound body of science on which to base the development of aircraft for the next seventy years (it was disbanded in 1979). This institution was soon copied by many other major developed countries.
In 1911 he was raised to the peerage as Viscount Haldane, of Cloan in the County of Perth.
In March 1914, Haldane's successor at the War Office, Jack Seely resigned following the Curragh incident. Rather than appoint a successor, Asquith decided to take over responsibility for the War Office directly himself. Asquith relied heavily on Haldane as the previous War Secretary and empowered him to carry out tasks at the War Office on his behalf. As the situation in Europe worsened, Asquith kept Haldane abreast of developments with Sir Edward Grey at the Foreign Office. Haldane was one of the first members of the Cabinet to recognise that war with Germany was inevitable and persuaded Asquith to mobilise the Army. With war imminent, Asquith was happy for Haldane to continue at the War Office formally as Secretary of State for War but Haldane persuaded him to appoint Field Marshal Kitchener.
However, following the outbreak of World War One Haldane was falsely accused of pro-German sympathies. The accusations were widely believed, even being echoed in a popular music hall song ("All dressed up and nowhere to go") in the revue "Mr Manhattan". He was harried in particular by Beaverbrook's Daily Express, which gave great publicity to the claim by Professor Onkel of Heidelberg that he had said “Germany was his spiritual home” – he had in fact said this about Professor Loetze’s classroom at Göttingen, at a dinner party given by Mrs Humphrey Ward in April 1913 to enable him to meet some German professors. He was forced to resign in 1915.
As the war progressed, Haldane moved increasingly close to the Labour Party but he was held back by his ties to the Liberal Party and to Asquith. When the Irish War of Independence broke out in 1919, Haldane was one of the first British politicians to argue that the solution lay in compromise rather than force.
It was not until the general election of 1923 that Haldane formally sided with Labour, and made several speeches on behalf of Labour candidates. When the Labour government was formed by Ramsay MacDonald in early 1924, Haldane was recruited to serve once again as Lord Chancellor. He was also joint Leader of the Labour Peers with Lord Parmoor. Haldane was a vital member of the Cabinet as he was one of only three members who had sat in a cabinet before; the other two had sat only briefly and for junior posts.
Contribution to Canadian Constitutional Law
As Lord Chancellor, Haldane was a member of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, at that time the court of last resort for the Empire. He retained the position even when he was no longer Chancellor. He sat on several cases from Canada dealing with the division of powers between the federal and provincial governments under the Canadian Constitution, particularly the interplay between sections 91 and 92 of the Constitution Act, 1867. He gave the decision for the Judicial Committee in several of those cases, and showed a marked tendency to favour the provincial powers at the expense of the federal government. For instance, in the case of In re the Board of Commerce Act, 1919, and the Combines and Fair Prices Act, he gave the decision striking down federal legislation which attempted to regulate the economy. In doing so, he gave very restrictive readings to both the "peace, order and good government" power of the federal government, as well as the federal criminal law power. Similarly, in Toronto Electric Commissioners v. Snider, Lord Haldane struck down a federal statute attempting to regulate industrial disputes, holding that it was not within federal authority under either the peace, order and good government power, nor the federal trade and commerce power. He went so far as to suggest that the trade and commerce power was simply an ancillary federal power, which could not authorise legislation in its own right. The effect of some of these decisions have subsequently been modified by later decisions of the Judicial Committee and the Supreme Court of Canada, but they have had the long-term effect of recognising substantial provincial powers. Haldane's approach to the division of powers was heavily criticised by some academics and lawyers in Canada, such as F.R. Scott and Chief Justice Bora Laskin, as unduly favouring the provinces over the federal government and depriving the federal government of the powers needed to deal with modern economic issues. More recently, one major study has characterised him as "the wicked stepfather" of the Canadian Constitution.
Other public appointments
Haldane was a member of the Coefficients dining club of social reformers set up in 1902 by the Fabian campaigners Sidney and Beatrice Webb. In 1904 he was President of the Edinburgh Sir Walter Scott Club and gave the Toast to Sir Walter at the Club's annual dinner. He also served as second Chancellor of the University of Bristol, and was elected Chancellor of the University of St Andrews shortly before his death.
Influence on education
In 1895 Haldane helped found the London School of Economics. He was also involved in the founding of Imperial College in 1907 and in his honour the University contains the Haldane Recreational Library.
Haldane co-translated the first English edition of Schopenhauer's The World as Will and Representation, published between 1883 and 1886. He wrote several philosophical works, the best known of which is The Reign of Relativity (1921), which dealt with the philosophical implications of the theory of relativity. Haldane published “The Pathway to Reality”, based on the Gifford Lectures which he had delivered at the University of St Andrews. Some of his public addresses have also been published, including The future of democracy (1918).
Haldane was a large, portly man ("a big, fat man" was Haig's initial impression) of dignified demeanour. Osbert Sitwell described him as “entering a room with the air of a whole procession”. Leo Amery said he looked like “the old-fashioned family butler”.
Haldane remained a lifelong bachelor after his fiancée, Miss Valentine Ferguson, broke off their engagement. He died suddenly of heart disease at his home in Auchterarder, Scotland, on 19 August 1928, aged 72. The viscountcy became extinct on his death.
Lord Birkenhead, the Conservative politician, praised Haldane in November 1923 as an exception to the idealism in Britain before the Great War:
In the welter of sentimentality, amid which Great Britain might easily have mouldered into ruin, my valued colleague, Lord Haldane, presented a figure alike interesting, individual, and arresting. In speech fluent and even infinite he yielded to no living idealist in the easy coinage of sentimental phraseology. Here, indeed, he was a match for those who distributed the chloroform of Berlin. Do we not remember, for instance, that Germany was his spiritual home? But he none the less prepared himself, and the Empire, to talk when the time came with his spiritual friends in language not in the least spiritual. He devised the Territorial Army, which was capable of becoming the easy nucleus of national conscription, and which unquestionably ought to have been used for that purpose at the outbreak of war. He created the Imperial General Staff. He founded the Officers' Training Corps.
On Haldane’s death “The Times” described him as “one of the most powerful, subtle and encyclopaedic intellects ever devoted to the public service of his country”.
The military historian Correlli Barnett claimed Haldane had "all-round personal talents far exceeding those of his predecessors" as Secretary of State for War and was "a man of first-class intellect and wide education".
- thepeerage.com Richard Burdon Haldane, 1st and last Viscount Haldane of Cloan
- The London Gazette: . 28 January 1890.
- Reid 2006, p132
- leighrayment.com House of Commons: Hackney to Harwich
- The London Gazette: . 12 August 1902.
- The London Gazette: . 8 December 1905.
- Reid 2006, p136-7
- Reid 2006, p134
- Reid 2006, p140
- Reid 2006, p138
- The London Gazette: . 28 March 1911.
- Haldane by Sir Frederick Maurice
- The London Gazette: . 25 January 1924.
- In re the Board of Commerce Act, 1919, and the Combines and Fair Prices Act, 1919  1 A.C. 191
- Toronto Electric Commissioners v. Snider,  AC 396.
- F.R. Scott, Some Privy Counsel (1950), 28 Can. Bar. Rev. 780.
- Vaughan, Viscount Haldane: 'The Wicked Step-father of the Canadian Constitution'. University of Toronto Press: Toronto, 2010.
- Reid 2006, p136
- "Ex-War Secretary and Lord Chancellor Succumbs Suddenly to Heart Disease. Charges of Pro-Germanism Made Him Unpopular in 1914. Was Labor Cabinet Minister. Haldane Active in Many Fields. Became an M.P. in 1885.". New York Times. 20 August 1928. Retrieved 2008-08-15. "Lord Haldane, veteran statesman and philosopher, who will be remembered as one of the greatest of British War Ministers and who was twice Lord Chancellor of England, died suddenly today of heart disease at his home in Auchterarder, Scotland."
- Lord Birkenhead, ‘Idealism in International Politics. A Rectorial Address, Delivered on November 23rd’ (Peterborough: The Peterborough Press, n.d.), p. 9.
- Correlli Barnett, Britain and Her Army (London: Allen Lane, 1970), p. 362, p. 388.
- Correlli Barnett, Britain and Her Army (London: Allen Lane, 1970)
- Lyman, Richard W. (1957). The First Labour Government. London: Chapman & Hall. ISBN 0-8462-1784-7 Check
- H. C. G. Matthew, ‘Haldane, Richard Burdon, Viscount Haldane (1856–1928)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2011, accessed 28 May 2011.
- Reid, Walter. Architect of Victory: Douglas Haig (Birlinn Ltd, Edinburgh, 2006.) ISBN 1-84158-517-3
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Richard Haldane, 1st Viscount Haldane.|
|Wikisource has original works written by or about:
Richard Burdon Haldane
- Painting of Sir Richard Haldane by Philip Alexius de László. Oil on millboard, 1928.
- Works by Richard Burdon Haldane, 1st Viscount Haldane at Project Gutenberg
- George Earle Buckle (1922). "Haldane, Richard Burdon Haldane, 1st Visct.". Encyclopædia Britannica (12th ed.).