Sir Robert Horne

(1871—1940) politician and businessman

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(1871–1940), son of a Stirlingshire manse, elevated to the peerage in 1937 as first Viscount Horne of Slamannan after what has been described as a meteoric career. Following a politically active undergraduate career at Glasgow University, Horne was called to the Bar in 1896. Nevertheless, his interest in politics did not remain dormant for long, and in 1908 he was adopted as the Unionist candidate for Stirlingshire and fought—and lost—that constituency at both the general elections of 1910. Horne again went to the polls in 1918, this time securing the Hillhead division of Glasgow for the Unionists. However, it was his wartime service that was to prove the critical influence guiding his later career. As Deputy Director of Agriculture in the National Service Department, Horne attracted the attention of Sir Eric Geddes, who was instrumental in Horne's appointment as the Assistant Inspector-General of Transportation in 1917. Horne became Director of the Admiralty Labour Department in 1918 and, after a matter of months, became the Third Civil Lord of the Admiralty. Following the declaration of peace, Horne was made Minister of Labour in Lloyd George's coalition government of 1919 and subsequently occupied the position of President of the Board of Trade (1920–1) before being appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1921. Party politics, however, intervened to cut short Horne's period in high office. Like many Scottish Unionist MPs, Horne opposed the dissolution of the Unionist–National Liberal Coalition in 1922 and occupied the backbenches for the rest of his career. In the latter years of his life, however, Horne—by promoting various reforms of the Scottish Office—was instrumental in guiding the Unionists' response to the rising tide of nationalist sentiment in Scotland.

From The Oxford Companion to Scottish History in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: British History.

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