Walter Elliot (Scottish politician)
|The Right Honourable
Walter Elliot, 1933
|Minister of Agriculture|
28 September 1932 – 29 October 1936
|Prime Minister||Ramsay Macdonald
|Preceded by||Sir John Gilmour|
|Succeeded by||William Morrison|
|Financial Secretary to the Treasury|
24 August 1931 – 29 September 1932
|Prime Minister||Ramsay Macdonald|
|Preceded by||Frederick Pethick-Lawrence|
|Succeeded by||Leslie Hore-Belisha|
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.
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.
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.
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.
- His full name contained "Elliot" twice over.
- "Cancer Act 1939 CHAPTER 13 2 and 3 Geo 6". Retrieved 12 April 2012.
- Torrance, David, The Scottish Secretaries (Birlinn 2006)
- Boyd-Orr; Sir Stephen Tallents (1958) . "Walter Elliot". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society, Volume 4. London: Royal Society.
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Walter Elliot