Walter Elliot (Scottish politician)

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For other people named Walter Elliot, see Walter Elliot (disambiguation).
The Right Honourable
Walter Elliot
MC
Walter Elliot Elliot.jpg
Walter Elliot, 1933
Financial Secretary to the Treasury
In office
24 August 1931 – September 1932
Preceded by Frederick Pethick-Lawrence
Succeeded by Leslie Hore-Belisha
Minister of Agriculture
In office
28 September 1932 – 29 October 1936
Preceded by Sir John Gilmour
Succeeded by William Morrison

Walter Elliot Elliot[1] MC (19 September 1888 – 8 January 1958) was a prominent Scottish Unionist Party politician in the interwar years.

Early life[edit]

The son of a Lanarkshire farmer, Elliot was raised in Glasgow and educated at the Glasgow Academy and the University of Glasgow, where he studied science and medicine. He then became a medical officer to the Scots Greys and served in the First World War where he gained a Military Cross.

Political career[edit]

Elliot then entered politics and was elected as Member of Parliament (MP) for Lanark in the 1918 general election. He lost this seat in the 1923 general election but, a year later in a 1924 by-election, he was elected as MP for Glasgow Kelvingrove. He was seen by many as a rising star. In 1932 he entered the Cabinet as Minister of Agriculture and subsequently served as Secretary of State for Scotland and Minister of Health. Amongst his achievements were the Agricultural Marketing Act which sought to protect food producers from going bankrupt amidst massive surpluses and collapsing prices, the introduction of free milk for school children and formation of the National Housing Company which built prefabricated "Weir Houses" in Clydeside.

On 29 March 1939, Elliot passed the Cancer Act 1939 - "An Act to make further provision for the treatment of cancer, to authorise the Minister of Health to lend money to the National Radium Trust, to prohibit certain advertisements relating to cancer, and for purposes connected with the matters aforesaid". All provisions in the Act for improving the treatment of cancer nationally have since been stripped, leaving only the prohibition against advertisements relating to cancer treatments.[2]

In 1938 Elliot's career reached a turning point when he came close to resigning over the Munich Agreement but decided against. Consequently his political stock began to fall and when Winston Churchill replaced Neville Chamberlain as Prime Minister in 1940, Elliot was dropped from the government. He later served as Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. In the 1945 election, he lost his Kelvingrove seat by just 45 votes. He was returned for the Combined Scottish Universities seat in a by-election in November 1946. When the university seats were abolished, Elliot returned to Kelvingrove where he beat his Labour opponent from 1945, John Lloyd Williams, and SNP candidate Hugh MacDiarmid in the 1950 election.

Elliot also led the popular Elliot Commission on Higher Education in West Africa whose report informed the creation of the first university colleges in West African countries such as Nigeria and Ghana.

Personal life[edit]

Elliot married Helen Hamilton in 1919, but she died in a mountaineering accident on their honeymoon. He married secondly, Katharine Tennant (the daughter of Sir Charles Tennant, 1st Baronet and a half-sister of Margot Asquith) on 2 April 1934. The Elliot Library at the Glasgow University Union is named for him.

References[edit]

  1. ^ His full name contained "Elliot" twice over.
  2. ^ "Cancer Act 1939 CHAPTER 13 2 and 3 Geo 6". Retrieved 12 April 2012. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Torrance, David, The Scottish Secretaries (Birlinn 2006)
  • Boyd-Orr; Sir Stephen Tallents (1958) [1958]. "Walter Elliot". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society, Volume 4. London: Royal Society. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
New constituency Member of Parliament for Lanark
19181923
Succeeded by
Thomas Scott Dickson
Preceded by
William Hutchison
Member of Parliament for Glasgow Kelvingrove
19241945
Succeeded by
John Lloyd Williams
Preceded by
John Boyd Orr
John Anderson
Sir John Graham Kerr
Member of Parliament for Combined Scottish Universities
19461950
With: John Anderson
Sir John Graham Kerr
Constituency abolished
Preceded by
John Lloyd Williams
Member of Parliament for Glasgow Kelvingrove
19501958
Succeeded by
Mary McAlister
Political offices
Preceded by
Frederick Pethick-Lawrence
Financial Secretary to the Treasury
1931 – 1932
Succeeded by
Leslie Hore-Belisha
Preceded by
John Gilmour
Minister of Agriculture
1932 – 1936
Succeeded by
William Morrison
Preceded by
Godfrey Collins
Secretary of State for Scotland
1936 – 1938
Succeeded by
John Colville
Preceded by
Sir Kingsley Wood
Minister of Health
1938 – 1940
Succeeded by
Malcolm MacDonald
Academic offices
Preceded by
Arthur Keith
Rector of the University of Aberdeen
1933 – 1936
Succeeded by
Sir Edward Evans
Preceded by
John Boyd Orr
Rector of the University of Glasgow
1947 – 1950
Succeeded by
John MacCormick