First National ministry

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Ramsay MacDonald, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom 1924, 1929–1931 & 1931–1935.

The First National ministry was formed by Ramsay MacDonald in 1931, and existed from 24 August 1931 until the reconstruction of the government, following the general election in October 1931. This ministry was the first "national government" coalition, of which there would be four. It was composed of members from National Labour, the Conservative Party, the Liberal Party, and the Liberal National Party.

Formation[edit]

The outgoing Labour cabinet, which was a minority government, was unable to agree upon proposals to cut public expenditure. The Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald submitted his resignation to King George V on 24 August 1931.

The King persuaded MacDonald that it was his duty to form a new government to address the financial crisis. The original idea was that the National government would be free to draw upon the talents of members of all parties, so that it would represent the nation as a whole rather than being a coalition of parties like those which had existed between 1915 and 1922. However as the main body of the Labour Party refused to co-operate, the government comprised members from MacDonald's small group of National Labour supporters, the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party.

The Liberal Party was split into three factions. The mainstream party led by Sir Herbert Samuel, who had been the Deputy Leader of the party before the formation of the National Government, continued to support free trade. The Liberal National group led by Sir John Simon had accepted the Conservative policy of protectionism. These two Liberal factions were supporters of the National Ministry. The third group of Lloyd George or Independent Liberals were opposed to the ministry (David Lloyd George had led the party until 1931, but during the crisis he was ill and he took no part in the discussions which led to Liberal participation in government).

The new Ministry was formed on 24 August 1931 when MacDonald was re-appointed Prime Minister. A smaller than usual cabinet was appointed the following day.

General election[edit]

The First National Ministry had not originally been intended to fight a general election, but under Conservative pressure one was soon called. The Samuelite Liberal Party was opposed to a general election but found it could not prevent one. Parliament was dissolved on 8 October 1931.

The United Kingdom general election, 1931 took place on 27 October 1931 leading to a landslide victory for candidates supporting the National government. MacDonald reconstructed his government on 5 November 1931, creating the Second National Ministry.

Cabinet[edit]

August 1931 - November 1931[edit]

Key[edit]

Members of the Ministry[edit]

The First National Government was composed of members of the following parties:

Members of the Cabinet are in bold face.

Office Name Party Dates
Prime Minister Ramsay Macdonald National Labour 24 August 1931–5 November 1931
Lord Chancellor Lord Sankey National Labour 25 August 1931
Lord President of the Council Stanley Baldwin Conservative 25 August 1931
Lord Privy Seal Earl Peel Conservative 3 September 1931
Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Snowden National Labour 25 August 1931
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury Sir Bolton Eyres-Monsell Conservative 3 September 1931
Financial Secretary to the Treasury Walter Elliot Conservative 3 September 1931
Lords of the Treasury David Margesson Conservative 26 August 1931–10 November 1931
Sir Frederick Penny Conservative 3 September 1931–12 November 1931
Alec Glassey Liberal 14 September 1931–12 November 1931
Marquess of Titchfield Conservative 3 September 1931–12 November 1931
Euan Wallace Conservative 3 September 1931–12 November 1931
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Marquess of Reading Liberal 25 August 1931
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Anthony Eden Conservative 3 September 1931
Secretary of State for the Home Department Sir Herbert Samuel Liberal 25 August 1931
Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department Oliver Stanley Conservative 3 September 1931
First Lord of the Admiralty Sir Austen Chamberlain Conservative 25 August 1931
Parliamentary and Financial Secretary to the Admiralty Earl Stanhope Conservative 3 September 1931
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Sir John Gilmour Conservative 25 August 1931
Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries vacant
Secretary of State for Air Lord Amulree National Labour 25 August 1931
Under-Secretary of State for Air Sir Philip Sassoon Conservative 3 September 1931
Secretary of State for the Colonies James Henry Thomas National Labour 25 August 1931
Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies Sir Robert William Hamilton Liberal 3 September 1931
Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs James Henry Thomas National Labour 25 August 1931
Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs Malcolm MacDonald National Labour 3 September 1931
President of the Board of Education Sir Donald Maclean Liberal 25 August 1931
Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education Sir Kingsley Wood Conservative 3 September 1931
Minister of Health Neville Chamberlain Conservative 25 August 1931
Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health Ernest Simon Liberal 22 September 1931
Secretary of State for India Sir Samuel Hoare Conservative 25 August 1931
Under-Secretary of State for India vacant
Minister of Labour Sir Henry Betterton Conservative 25 August 1931
Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour Milner Gray Liberal 3 September 1931
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Marquess of Lothian Liberal 25 August 1931
Paymaster General Sir Tudor Walters Liberal 4 September 1931
Minister for Pensions George Tryon Conservative 3 September 1931
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Pensions vacant
Postmaster-General William Ormsby-Gore Conservative 3 September 1931
Assistant Postmaster-General Graham White Liberal 3 September 1931
Secretary of State for Scotland Sir Archibald Sinclair Liberal 25 August 1931
Under-Secretary of State for Scotland Noel Skelton Conservative 3 September 1931
President of the Board of Trade Sir Philip Cunliffe-Lister Conservative 25 August 1931
Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade Gwilym Lloyd George Liberal 3 September 1931
Secretary for Overseas Trade Sir Edward Young Conservative 3 September 1931
Secretary for Mines Isaac Foot Liberal 3 September 1931
Minister of Transport James Pybus Liberal National 3 September 1931
Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport George Gillett National Labour 4 September 1931
Secretary of State for War Marquess of Crewe Liberal 26 August 1931
Under-Secretary of State for War vacant
Financial Secretary to the War Office Alfred Duff Cooper Conservative 3 September 1931
First Commissioner of Works Marquess of Londonderry Conservative 25 August 1931
Attorney General Sir William Jowitt National Labour 3 September 1931
Solicitor General Sir Thomas Inskip Conservative 3 September 1931
Lord Advocate Craigie Mason Aitchison National Labour 3 September 1931
Solicitor General for Scotland John Charles Watson National Labour 4 September 1931
Treasurer of the Household Sir George Hennessy, Bt Conservative 3 September 1931
Comptroller of the Household Goronwy Owen Liberal 14 September 1931
Vice-Chamberlain of the Household Sir Frederick Charles Thomson Conservative 3 September 1931

References[edit]

  • Bassett, Reginald. 1931 Political Crisis (2nd ed., Aldershot: Macmillan 1986) ISBN 0-566-05138-9
  • Howell, David. MacDonald's Party: Labour Identities and Crisis, 1922-1931 (Oxford U.P. 2002). ISBN 0-19-820304-7
  • Hyde, H. Montgomery. Baldwin: The Unexpected Prime Minister (1973)
  • Jenkins, Roy. Baldwin (1987) excerpt and text search
  • Mowat, Charles Loch. Britain between the Wars: 1918-1945 (1955) PP 413–79
  • Raymond, John, ed. The Baldwin Age (1960), essays by scholars 252 pages; online
  • Smart, Nick. The National Government. 1931-40 (Macmillan 1999) ISBN 0-333-69131-8
  • Taylor, A.J.P. English History 1914-1945 (1965) pp 321–88
  • Thorpe, Andrew. Britain in the 1930s. The Deceptive Decade, (Oxford: Blackwell, 1992). ISBN 0-631-17411-7
  • Williamson, Philip. National Crisis and National Government. British Politics, the Economy and the Empire, 1926-1932, (Cambridge UP, 1992). ISBN 0-521-36137-0

See also[edit]

Preceded by
Second MacDonald Ministry
Government of the United Kingdom
1931–1935
Succeeded by
Second National Ministry