British Liberal politician and administrator. He was leader of the Liberal Party 1931–35, held several ministerial offices, and served as high commissioner of Palestine 1920–25.
Ministerial offices A keen social reformer, as undersecretary at the Home Office 1905–09 he was largely responsible for the Children's Act of 1908, which set up juvenile courts and borstals. After entering the cabinet, he was chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster 1909–10, postmaster general 1910–14 and 1915–16, president of the Local Government Board 1914–15, and home secretary 1916. When the Liberal Party split in 1916, Samuel sided with Herbert Asquith and went into opposition. He lost his seat in 1918.
Liberal leader Re-elected to Parliament in 1929, Samuel held the Liberal leadership 1931–35, which is to say that he led the main faction of a fragmented and fast-declining party. In 1931, the ‘Samuelite’ Liberals joined the National Government coalition, in which Samuel served as home secretary for just over a year. A free-trader, he opposed the introduction of protective tariffs and led his followers out of the coalition in September 1932 in protest at the Ottawa Agreements on Imperial preference.
Early life Samuel was born in Liverpool. After studying at Oxford, he was a social worker in the East End of London before entering Parliament in 1902.
Mediator During his five years as high commissioner of Palestine, he promoted economic development and tried to keep the peace between Jews and Arabs with varying success. On his return to the UK, he chaired the Royal Commission on the Coal Industry 1925–26. Although its recommendations were unacceptable to pit owners and miners alike, Samuel played a part in resolving the General Strike of 1926.
House of Lords After losing his seat in the 1935 general election, he was given a peerage in 1937 and led the Liberals in the House of Lords 1944–55. As a politician, he was widely regarded as conscientious, reliable, and uninspiring.
Samuel, Herbert Louis
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