Unionist government, 1895–1905
A coalition of the Conservative and Liberal Unionist parties took power in the United Kingdom following the 1895 general election. Conservative leader Lord Salisbury was appointed Prime Minister and his nephew, Arthur Balfour, became Leader of the House of Commons, but various major posts went to the Liberal Unionists, most notably the leader of the House of Lords, the Liberal Unionist 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 Second Boer War from 1899 to 1902, which was exploited by the government to help win a landslide victory in the 1900 general election.
The government consisted of two ministries, the first two led by Salisbury (from 1895 to 1902) and the third by Balfour (from 1902 onwards).
Balfour succeeded Salisbury as Prime Minister in 1902. Eventually, the Unionist government would 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
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 in production 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 government decided to import over 60,000 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. 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.— Yap & Leong Man (1996, p. 107)
Fall from power
With his majority greatly reduced and defeat in the next election seeming inevitable, Balfour resigned as Prime Minister in December 1905, leading to the appointment of a minority Liberal government under Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman. In the general election which followed in 1906, all but three members of Balfour's Cabinet lost their seats, including Balfour himself.
|Unionist coalition of the United Kingdom|
|People and organisations|
|Prime Minister||Lord Salisbury|
|Prime Minister's history||1895–1902|
|Status in legislature|
|Opposition party||Liberal Party|
June 1895 to November 1900
November 1900 to July 1902
In November 1900, the Cabinet was reformed for the first time.
|Date formed||12 July 1902|
|Date dissolved||4 December 1905|
|People and organisations|
|Prime Minister||Arthur Balfour|
|Status in legislature||Majority (coalition)|
|Opposition party||Liberal Party|
|Legislature term(s)||27th UK Parliament|
|Predecessor||Fourth Salisbury ministry|
- May 1903 – Lord Onslow succeeds Robert William Hanbury at the Board of Agriculture.
- September to October 1903 –
- Lord Londonderry succeeds the Duke of Devonshire as Lord President. Londonderry remains President of the Board of Education.
- Lord Lansdowne succeeds Devonshire as Leader of the House of Lords. Lansdowne remains Foreign Secretary.
- Lord Salisbury succeeds Arthur Balfour as Lord Privy Seal.
- Austen Chamberlain succeeds Charles Ritchie at the Exchequer. Chamberlain's successor as Postmaster General is not in the Cabinet.
- Alfred Lyttelton succeeds Joseph Chamberlain as Colonial Secretary.
- St John Brodrick succeeds Lord George Hamilton as Secretary for India.
- H. O. Arnold-Forster succeeds Brodrick as Secretary for War.
- Andrew Graham-Murray succeeds Lord Balfour of Burleigh as Secretary for Scotland.
- March 1905 –
- Walter Hume Long succeeds George Wyndham as Irish Secretary.
- Gerald Balfour succeeds Long at the Local Government Board.
- Lord Salisbury succeeds Balfour at the Board of Trade. Salisbury remains Lord Privy Seal.
- Lord Cawdor succeeds Lord Selborne at the Admiralty.
- Ailwyn Fellowes succeeds Lord Onslow at the Board of Agriculture.
List of ministers
Cabinet members are listed in bold face.
- The position of Prime Minister was not a formal ministerial office.
- Also served as Leader of the House of Lords.
- Halsbury was created the 1st Earl of Halsbury on 19 January 1898.
- Devonshire also served as Leader of the House of Lords from 12 July 1902 to 13 October 1903.
- Lansdowne also served as Leader of the House of Lords from 13 October 1903 to 4 December 1905
- Cranborne succeeded as the 4th Marquess of Salisbury on 22 August 1903.
- Londonderry entered the Cabinet on 7 November 1900.
- Office abolished on 8 August 1902 and replaced by that of Secretary to the Board of Education.
- Carmarthen succeeded as the 10th Duke of Leeds on 23 December 1895.
- Office abolished in 1900.
- Cook, Chris; Keith, Brendan (18 June 1975). British Historical Facts: 1830–1900 (1st ed.). Palgrave Macmillan UK. ISBN 978-1-349-01348-7.
- Butler, David; Butler, Gareth (10 November 2010). British Political Facts (10th ed.). Palgrave Macmillan UK. ISBN 978-0-230-29318-2.
- Englefield, Dermot; Seaton, Janet; White, Isobel (1995). Facts About the British Prime Ministers. Mansell Publishing Limited. ISBN 978-0-7201-2306-7.
- Tout, T. F. (1910). An advanced history of Great Britain from the earliest times to the death of Edward VII. New York: Longmans, Green. pp. 740–741. OL 13991885M.
- Yap, Melanie; Leong Man, Dainne (1 January 1996). Colour, Confusion and Concessions: The History of the Chinese in South Africa. Hong Kong University Press. ISBN 978-962-209-424-6.
| Government of the United Kingdom