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David Lloyd George

David Lloyd George Born: 17 January 1863 in Chortlon-upon-Medlock, Manchester

First entered Parliament: 10 April 1890

Age he became PM: 53 years, 325 days

Maiden Speech: 13 June 1890 in favour of temperance reform

Total time as PM: Five years, 317 days

Died: 26 March 1945 at Ty Newydd, Llanystumdwy, Wales

Listen to Lloyd George on his “People’s Budget”

David Lloyd George was the longest serving Chancellor of the Exchequer in the 20th century, before becoming Prime Minister in 1916.

His “People’s Budget” of 1909 was one of the most controversial of all time. It proposed a large increase in the tax burden on the landed classes to pay for higher social spending. Hear his explanation as to why it was necessary:

Facts and figures

Nicknames: “The Welsh Wizard” and “The Man Who Won The War”

Education: Llanystumdwy Village School and home teaching

Family: Lloyd George was the eldest son and the third of four children. He was married twice, and had two sons and four daughters

Interests: Travelling, motoring, golf

Biograpy

Famous radical

David Lloyd George was one of the twentieth century’s most-famous radicals.

Although born in Manchester he was the first and only Welshman to hold the office of PM. He grew up in Caernarvonshire, under the care of his uncle, a cobbler.

Partly self-taught, he excelled in his studies at the village school, learning Latin and, later, French, in order to qualify for legal training.

In 1890 he was elected Liberal MP for Caernarvon, aged 27. His scathing wit made him a dreaded but respected debating opponent in the House.

He is remembered as a man of great energy and an unconventional outlook in character and politics. In 1906 he was made President of the Board of Trade, and became recognised as a very able politician. Asquith later promoted him to Chancellor. He became one of the great reforming chancellors of the 20th century, introducing state pensions for the first time and declaring a war on poverty.

Social reforms

To pay for wide-ranging social reforms as well as naval expansion, he intended, controversially, to tax land. He responded to the resultant outcry with passionate denunciations of landowners and aristocrats.

Lloyd George made a rousing speech on Armistice Day 1918 His reforming budget only passed after the 1911 Parliament Act greatly weakened the power of the House of Lords to block legislation from the Commons. During the war, Lloyd George threw himself into the job of Minister for Munitions, organising and inspiring the war effort.

He later resigned in protest at the direction of the war, and on the later resignation of Asquith, Lloyd George accepted an invitation to form a government in December 1916. His dynamism ensured he was regarded as the right man to give Britain’s war much needed impetus.

Despite his success at centralising the government machine, however, the army remained beyond the reach of his reforming efforts. With the end of the war in 1918 on Armistice Day he declared: “This is no time for words. Our hearts are too full of gratitude to which no tongue can give adequate expression.”

Lloyd George was acclaimed as the man who had won the war, and in 1918 the coalition won a huge majority. It was the first election in which any women were allowed to vote. In 1919 Lloyd George signed the Treaty of Versailles, which established the League of Nations and the war reparations settlement. He was troubled, however, by domestic problems.

Period of depression

His agreement to the independence of the South of Ireland was reluctant, and he presided over a period of depression, unemployment and strikes. There were also concerns that Lloyd George was war mongering in Turkey, and serious allegations that he had sold honours. As a result of the many scandals he had attracted his popularity faded.

When the Conservatives broke up the coalition, Lloyd George handed in his resignation. He remained a very controversial figure. His own party could not decide whether to support him or abandon him.

Lloyd George is buried on the banks of the River Dwyfor He largely disregarded the problems facing the party, preferring to work for himself. As a result, one of the greatest Liberal leaders was also largely responsible for the party’s downfall.

The Liberal party never ran the Government again. Lloyd George later precipitated the fall of Neville Chamberlain by attacking his wartime failure in Norway in 1940. In the meantime, he had spent the 1930s with journalism and travel, and the writing of his memoirs.

In 1944 he was made Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor, and died the following year aged 82. He is buried on the banks of the River Dwyfor.

Quote unquote

On the House of Lords: “…a body of five hundred men chosen at random from amongst the unemployed”

Did you know?

Megan Lloyd His son, Gwilym, and daughter, Megan, both followed him into politics and were elected members of parliament.

Extract from Lloyd-George’s speech in Wales during the First World War

“Why should we not sing during the war? Why especially should we not sing at this stage of the war? The blinds of Britain are not down yet, nor are they likely to be. The honour of Britain is not dead, her might is not broken, her destiny is not fulfilled. Her ideals have not been shattered by her enemies. She is more than alive, she is more potent, she is greater than she ever was. Her dominions are wider, her influence is deeper, her purpose is more exalted than ever. Why should her children not sing?”

First wife - Margaret Owen

She raised millions of pounds for charity during the First World War and was made a Dame in 1920. She also became the first woman JP in Wales in 1928. Margaret had five children.

Second wife - Frances Stevenson

Lloyd George’s personal secretary from 1913 until their marriage in 1943 she had one child, a daughter, although it was often said that she was adopted.

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