Number 10 Downing Street

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Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman

Liberal | 1905 - 1908

Henry Campbell-Bannerman




7 September 1836, Kelvinside House, Glasgow


22 April 1908, 10 Downing Street

Dates in office

5 December 1905 - 3 April 1908

Political party


Major acts

Probation Act 1907 - enabled courts to release offenders on probation, as well as establishing probation order and probation officers. It laid the foundations of the modern Probation Service.

“Personally I am an immense believer in bed, in constantly keeping horizontal: the heart and everything else goes slower, and the whole system is refreshed.”

Henry Campbell-Bannerman was the first man to be given official use of the title ‘Prime Minister’. Known as CB, he was a firm believer in free trade, Irish Home Rule and the improvement of social conditions.  The son of the Lord Provost of Glasgow, he was educated at Glasgow High School and at Glasgow and Cambridge universities.

In 1868 he was elected the Liberal MP for Stirling Burghs. Gladstone appointed him Financial Secretary at the War Office, and then Secretary of State for War in his next two governments. He held the position again under Rosebery. He later became Liberal leader, and was seen as “a safe pair of hands”.

The Liberals split over the Boer War, with Lloyd George joining CB in denouncing the campaign, and CB himself caused a furore by refusing to withdraw his remarks about Kitchener’s “methods of barbarism” being used to win the war.

Following Balfour’s resignation in 1905, Edward VII invited Campbell-Bannerman, as leader of the next largest party, to form a government. CB accepted the King’s offer.

His government became known for being strong and efficient, and he skilfully ensured that it embraced all wings of the Liberal party.

The Liberals went on to win the 1906 election. Following this win CB restored autonomy to the Transvaal and the Orange Free State (both parts of South Africa), and clashed with the Lords over an Education Bill.