Unionist Government 1895–1905

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3rd Marquess of Salisbury
Arthur Balfour
Punch cartoon, 1903; The Rand mine-owners' employment of Chinese labour on the Transvaal gold mines in British controlled South Africa was controversial and contributed to the Liberal victory in the 1906 elections.

A coalition of the Conservative and Liberal Unionist parties took power in the United Kingdom following the general election of 1895. The Conservative leader, Lord Salisbury, took office as prime minister, and his nephew, Arthur Balfour, was leader of the Commons, but various major posts went to the Liberal Unionist leaders, most notably the Liberal Unionist leader in the Lords, the Duke of Devonshire, who was made Lord President, and his colleague in the Commons, Joseph Chamberlain, who became Colonial Secretary. It was this government which would conduct the Boer War from 1899 to 1902, which was exploited by the government to help win a landslide victory in the general election of 1900.

Trade Reform[edit]

Balfour succeeded Salisbury as prime minister in 1902, and the government would eventually falter after Chamberlain proposed his scheme for tariff reform, whose partial embrace by Balfour led to the resignation of the more orthodox free traders in the Cabinet.

Chinese miners in South Africa[edit]

After the conclusion of the Boer War the British government sought to rebuild South Africa's economy which had been devastated by the war. An important part of the rebuilding effort was to get the gold mines of the Witwatersrand, the richest in history and a major cause of the war, back online as soon as possible. Because the government decreed that white labour was too expensive and black labourers were reluctant to return to the mines, the Union government decided to import 63,000 contracted workers from China.

This was deeply unpopular at the time as popular opinion in much of the western world, including Britain, was hostile to Chinese immigration. It also happened at a time when poverty and unemployment amongst lower class British workers was very high. On 26 March 1904 a demonstration against Chinese immigration to South Africa was held in Hyde Park and was attended by 80,000 people.[1]:107 The Parliamentary Committee of the Trade Union Congress then passed a resolution declaring that:

That this meeting consisting of all classes of citizens of London, emphatically protests against the action of the Government in granting permission to import into South Africa indentured Chinese labour under conditions of slavery, and calls upon them to protect this new colony from the greed of capitalists and the Empire from degradation.[2]

Fall from power[edit]

With his majority greatly reduced and defeat in the next election seeming inevitable, Balfour resigned in December 1905, leading to the appointment of a Liberal government under Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman. In the general election which followed, all but three members of the Balfour cabinet were defeated in their bids for re-election, including Balfour himself.

Cabinets[edit]

Lord Salisbury's Cabinet, June 1895 – July 1902[edit]

Changes[edit]

In November 1900, the cabinet was completely reorganised:

Arthur Balfour's Cabinet, July 1902 – December 1905[edit]

Changes[edit]

List of Ministers[edit]

Cabinet members are listed in bold face.

Office Name Date Notes
Prime Minister The Marquess of Salisbury (3rd) 25 June 1895 – 11 July 1902 also Leader of the House of Lords
Arthur Balfour 12 July 1902 – 4 December 1905 also Leader of the House of Commons
First Lord of the Treasury
and Leader of the House of Commons
Arthur Balfour 29 June 1895  
Chancellor of the Exchequer Sir Michael Hicks Beach 29 June 1895  
Charles Ritchie 11 August 1902
Austen Chamberlain 9 October 1903
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury
and Government Chief Whip in the House of Commons
Sir William Walrond, Bt 29 June 1895  
Sir Alexander Acland-Hood, Bt 8 August 1902
Financial Secretary to the Treasury Robert William Hanbury 29 June 1895  
Austen Chamberlain 7 November 1900
William Hayes Fisher 8 August 1902
Arthur Elliot 10 April 1903
Victor Cavendish 9 October 1903
Junior Lords of the Treasury Henry Torrens Anstruther 6 July 1895 – 11 October 1903  
William Hayes Fisher 6 July 1895 – 8 August 1902
Lord Stanley 6 July 1895 – 7 November 1900
Ailwyn Fellowes 7 November 1900 – 15 March 1905
Henry Forster 8 August 1902 – 4 December 1905
Lord Balniel 11 October 1903 – 4 December 1905
Lord Edmund Talbot 16 June 1905 – 4 December 1905
Lord Chancellor The Lord Halsbury 29 June 1895 created Earl of Halsbury 19 January 1898
Lord President of the Council The Duke of Devonshire 29 June 1895 also Leader of the House of Lords 12 July 1902 – 13 October 1903
The Marquess of Londonderry 19 October 1903
Lord Privy Seal The Viscount Cross 29 June 1895  
The Marquess of Salisbury (3rd) 12 November 1900
Arthur Balfour 14 July 1902 also Leader of the House of Commons
The Marquess of Salisbury (4th) 17 October 1903
Secretary of State for the Home Department Sir Matthew White Ridley, Bt 29 June 1895  
Charles Thomson Ritchie 12 November 1900
Aretas Akers-Douglas 11 August 1902
Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department Jesse Collings 3 July 1895  
Thomas Cochrane 11 August 1902
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs The Marquess of Salisbury (3rd) 29 June 1895
The Marquess of Lansdowne 12 November 1900 also Leader of the House of Lords 13 October 1903 – 4 December 1905
Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs George Curzon 20 June 1895  
St John Brodrick 15 October 1898
Viscount Cranborne 12 November 1900 succeeded as 4th Marquess of Salisbury 22 August 1903
Earl Percy 9 October 1903  
Secretary of State for War The Marquess of Lansdowne 4 July 1895  
St John Brodrick 12 November 1900
H. O. Arnold-Forster 12 October 1903
Under-Secretary of State for War St John Brodrick 4 July 1895  
George Wyndham 10 October 1898
The Lord Raglan 13 November 1900
The Earl of Hardwicke 8 August 1902
The Earl of Donoughmore 12 October 1903
Financial Secretary to the War Office Joseph Powell-Williams 3 July 1895  
Lord Stanley 1 January 1901
William Bromley-Davenport 12 October 1903
Secretary of State for the Colonies Joseph Chamberlain 29 June 1895  
Alfred Lyttelton 9 October 1903
Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies The Earl of Selborne 28 June 1895  
The Earl of Onslow 26 November 1900
The Duke of Marlborough 22 July 1903
Secretary of State for India Lord George Hamilton 4 July 1895  
St John Brodrick 9 October 1903
Under-Secretary of State for India The Earl of Onslow 5 July 1895  
The Earl of Hardwicke 17 January 1901
Earl Percy 18 August 1902
vacant 29 November 1904
The Marquess of Bath 20 January 1905
First Lord of the Admiralty George Goschen 29 June 1895  
The Earl of Selborne 12 November 1900
The Earl Cawdor 27 March 1905
Parliamentary and Financial Secretary to the Admiralty William Ellison-Macartney 29 June 1895  
H. O. Arnold-Forster 7 November 1900
E. G. Pretyman 11 October 1903
Civil Lord of the Admiralty Austen Chamberlain 6 July 1895  
E. G. Pretyman 7 November 1900
Arthur Lee 11 October 1903
President of the Board of Agriculture Walter Long 4 July 1895  
Robert William Hanbury 16 November 1900
The Earl of Onslow 20 May 1903
Ailwyn Fellowes 14 March 1905
President of the Board of Education The Duke of Devonshire 3 March 1900  
The Marquess of Londonderry 11 August 1902
Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education Sir William Anson, Bt 11 August 1902  
Chief Secretary for Ireland Gerald Balfour 4 July 1895  
George Wyndham 9 November 1900
Walter Long 12 March 1905
Lord Lieutenant of Ireland The Earl Cadogan 29 June 1895  
The Earl of Dudley 11 August 1902
Lord Chancellor of Ireland The Lord Ashbourne 29 June 1895  
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster The Viscount Cross 29 June 1895  
The Lord James of Hereford 4 July 1895
Sir William Walrond, Bt 11 August 1902
President of the Local Government Board Henry Chaplin 29 June 1895  
Walter Long 12 November 1900
Gerald Balfour 14 March 1905
Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board Thomas Wallace Russell 30 June 1895  
John Lawson 12 November 1900
Arthur Frederick Jeffreys 27 June 1905
Postmaster-General The Duke of Norfolk 6 July 1895  
The Marquess of Londonderry 10 April 1900 entered the Cabinet 7 November 1900
Austen Chamberlain 11 August 1902  
Lord Stanley 9 October 1903
Secretary for Scotland The Lord Balfour of Burleigh 29 June 1895  
Andrew Murray 9 October 1903
The Marquess of Linlithgow 2 February 1905
President of the Board of Trade Charles Ritchie 29 June 1895  
Gerald Balfour 12 November 1900
The Marquess of Salisbury (4th) 14 March 1905
Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade The Earl of Dudley 29 June 1895  
Andrew Bonar Law 8 August 1902
First Commissioner of Works Aretas Akers-Douglas 4 July 1895  
The Lord Windsor 11 August 1902
Vice-President of the Committee on Education Sir John Eldon Gorst 4 July 1895 office abolished 8 August 1902 and replaced
by that of Secretary to the Board of Education
Paymaster-General The Earl of Hopetoun 16 July 1895  
The Duke of Marlborough 1899
Sir Savile Crossley, Bt 11 March 1902
Attorney General Sir Richard Webster 8 July 1895  
Sir Robert Finlay 11 May 1900
Solicitor General Sir Robert Finlay 30 August 1895  
Sir Edward Carson 11 May 1900
Lord Advocate Sir Charles Pearson 11 July 1895  
Andrew Murray 14 May 1896
Charles Dickson 17 October 1903
Solicitor General for Scotland Andrew Murray 11 July 1895  
Charles Dickson 14 May 1896
David Dundas 17 October 1903
Edward Theodore Salvesen 2 February 1905
James Avon Clyde 17 October 1905
Attorney General for Ireland John Atkinson 8 July 1895  
Solicitor General for Ireland William Kenny 28 August 1895  
Dunbar Plunket Barton  
George Wright 30 January 1900
James Campbell 8 July 1903
Lord Steward of the Household The Earl of Pembroke 16 July 1895  
Lord Chamberlain of the Household The Earl of Lathom 16 July 1895  
The Earl of Hopetoun 7 December 1898
The Earl of Clarendon 21 September 1900
Vice-Chamberlain of the Household Ailwyn Fellowes 10 July 1895  
Sir Alexander Acland-Hood, Bt 3 December 1900
The Lord Wolverton 17 November 1902
Master of the Horse The Duke of Portland 16 July 1895  
Treasurer of the Household Marquess of Carmarthen 10 July 1895 succeeded as 10th Duke of Leeds 23 December 1895
Viscount Curzon 11 February 1896  
Victor Cavendish 4 December 1900
Marquess of Hamilton 13 October 1903
Comptroller of the Household Lord Arthur Hill 10 July 1895  
The Viscount Valentia 19 October 1898
Captain of the Gentlemen-at-Arms The Lord Belper 16 July 1895  
Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard
and Government Chief Whip in the House of Lords
The Earl of Limerick 16 July 1895  
The Earl Waldegrave 26 August 1896
Master of the Buckhounds The Earl of Coventry 16 July 1895  
The Lord Chesham 1 November 1900 office abolished 1900
Mistress of the Robes The Duchess of Buccleuch 16 July 1895  
Lords in Waiting The Lord Churchill 16 July 1895 – 4 December 1905  
The Lord Harris 16 July 1895 – 4 December 1900
The Lord Henniker 16 July 1895 – 1 November 1895
The Lord Lawrence 16 July 1895 – 4 December 1905
The Earl of Ranfurly 16 July 1895 – 21 April 1897
The Earl Waldegrave 16 July 1895 – 9 September 1896
The Earl of Clarendon 17 July 1895 – 30 October 1900
The Viscount Bridport 30 June 1884 – 18 February 1901
The Earl of Kintore 1 November 1895 – 4 December 1905
The Lord Bagot 9 September 1896 – 2 July 1901
The Earl of Denbigh 22 April 1897 – 4 December 1905
The Earl Howe 30 October 1900 – 1 October 1903
The Lord Kenyon 4 December 1900 – 4 December 1905
The Earl of Erroll 19 October 1903 – 4 December 1905

Source: C. Cook and B. Keith, British Historical Facts 1830–1900

References[edit]

  1. ^ Yap, Melanie; Leong Man, Dainne (1996). Colour, Confusion and Concessions: The History of the Chinese in South Africa. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. p. 510. ISBN 962-209-423-6. 
  2. ^ Official programme of the great demonstration in Hyde Park, [S.l.:s.n.]; Richardson (1904). Chinese mine labour in the Transvaal. London: Parliamentary Committee of the Trade Union Congress. pp. 5–6. 
Preceded by
Rosebery ministry
British Government
1895–1905
Succeeded by
Campbell-Bannerman ministry