Geddes Axe

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David Lloyd George (1863—1945) prime minister


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Proposals for spending cuts in Britain, made by Sir Eric Geddes. He had been Director-General of Munitions and Railways in World War I, and Minister of Transport (1919–21). In 1921, at Lloyd George's behest, he took the chair of a committee which would suggest reductions in public expenditure. The report of the Geddes Committee, dubbed the ‘Geddes Axe’, recommended savings of £86 million. The Axe effectively scrapped plans for the introduction of compulsory education after the age of 14 in continuation schools, and ended planned housing reforms. There was to be the abolition of a wide range of government posts and some departments such as transport, plus reductions in salaries for police, teachers, and others. The report provoked an outcry and some recommendations were rejected, so that the eventual reduction in the 1922 budget was £64 million. Education had initially been marked for savings of £18 million—the final figure was around £6 million, but it still suffered, especially through the cutting of continuation schools. However, the Axe was aimed mainly at the armed services, whom Geddes had successfully portrayed as profligate spenders.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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