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William Henry Beveridge

(1879—1963) social reformer and economist


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(b. 5 Mar. 1879, d. 16 Mar. 1963).

British economist and social reformer Born in Rangpur, Bengal, he was educated at Charterhouse and Oxford. He then held a fellowship at University College, Oxford, until 1909, while his involvement with Toynbee Hall as Sub‐Warden laid the foundation of a deep commitment to the social problems of unemployment, malnutrition, and old age. He was also, during 1906–8, a leader‐writer on social affairs with the Morning Post. In 1909, Beveridge joined the Board of Trade as Winston Churchill's personal assistant, becoming closely involved in the drawing‐up of social legislation, such as the establishment of labour exchanges and the National Insurance Act (1911). From 1919 to 1937 he was director of the London School of Economics, and was Vice‐Chancellor of London University (1926–8). In 1937, he returned to Oxford as Master of University College. During those years he also served on numerous public committees, e.g. as chairman of the Unemployment Insurance Statutory Committee (1934–44). He again served as a civil servant from 1940, in the Ministry of Labour; but, after disagreements there with Ernest Bevin, he became chairman of the interdepartmental committee on social insurance and allied services. In this post, in 1942 he produced his most important work, the Beveridge Report, a full‐scale review of social services in Britain. He was elected as Liberal MP for Berwick‐upon‐Tweed in 1944, in order to support the report in parliament. He lost his seat in 1945, and entered the Lords as a Liberal in 1946. He then concentrated his prolific energy in writing on historical, social, economic, and philosophical matters.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).


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