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Arthur Greenwood

(1880—1954) politician


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(b. Hunslet, Yorkshire, 8 Feb. 1883; d. London, 9 June 1954) British; Minister of Health 1929 –31, deputy leader of the Labour Party 1935 –45 The son of a decorator, Greenwood was educated at a higher grade school and the Yorkshire College (later Leeds University). After graduating he taught at the university and for the Workers' Educational Association. During the First World War he was a civil servant in David Lloyd George's secretariat. He became secretary to the Labour Party's Research Department in 1920 and played a leading role in policy formulation there until he gave up the post up, in 1943.

Greenwood entered the Commons as member for Nelson and Colne in 1922 and represented this constituency until the party's decimation in 1931. Returned to parliament at a by-election in Wakefield in 1932, he held that seat until his death. His ministerial career never matched up to the promise many saw in him in his early years or to his great popularity in the party, which resulted in his holding the deputy leadership for ten years and a lengthy membership of the National Executive Committee. After junior ministerial office in 1924, he was Minister of Health, in the Cabinet, between 1929 and 1931. He then held a non-portfolio post in Winston Churchill's coalition government for two years (1940 –2). He also held non-portfolio Cabinet posts for two years (1945 –7) in Clement Attlee's Labour government (1945 –51). His role was mainly policy co-ordination and his primary interest domestic, and especially social, policy. In this sphere his most lasting achievement was his decision (while in the wartime coalition government) to set up the Beveridge Committee, whose report laid the foundation for the post-war welfare state.

From A Dictionary of Political Biography in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Politics.


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