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  More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)

More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)
David Lloyd George

(1863–1945, earl Lloyd-George 1945)
Liberal politician and the dominant British figure during the years either side of *World War I. He made his name as a young lawyer representing Welsh *Nonconformists (his own background) and in 1890 was elected MP for Caernarfon, a seat he held till he was created a peer three months before his death. Apart from the brief interlude of *Rosebery's government (1894–5), it was to be fifteen years before there was a Liberal administration. When it finally arrived, in 1905, Lloyd George went straight into the cabinet as president of the Board of Trade.

During the early part of World War I he was minister of munitions, a post in which he cut through much red tape to ensure an adequate supply of arms to the front. By the end of 1916 there was discontent with Asquith's management of the war, and Lloyd George schemed secretly with the Conservatives in the coalition government to take his place as prime minister – a coup for which the Liberal party did not forgive him for many years. For the remainder of the war he succeeded in streamlining the political command, working with an inner cabinet of just five people, but he was unable to effect much improvement among the generals with whom (particularly Haig) he remained frequently at odds.

The main postwar issue was Ireland, where Lloyd George brought to a partial end the long-running problem of *Home Rule by giving independence in 1921 to the Irish Free State. The period also saw the honours scandal, in which he was accused of selling peerages, baronetcies and knighthoods; his doing so was partly an attempt to form his own political fund, for the Liberal party machine remained in *Asquith's control. Conservative discontent with the coalition came to a head at a famous meeting at the *Carlton Club in 1922, and there was an easy Conservative victory in that year's election.

In 1908 Asquith made him chancellor of the exchequer. His 'people's budget' of 1909 caused a furore, introducing new taxes on the rich to strengthen the navy (the likelihood of war was now evident). The Conservative majority in the House of Lords had vetoed much Liberal legislation over the past few years but their rejection of this budget was the last straw, leading to a constitutional crisis solved only by *Asquith's Parliament Act of 1911. In that same year Lloyd George introduced compulsory *national insurance in certain industries, an important step towards the *welfare state.

After the war Lloyd George decided to continue the coalition. He and Bonar *Law went to the country together in 1918 in what became known as the 'coupon' election (because Asquith derided as a coupon the letter, signed by both leaders, which every coalition candidate carried as a certificate of authenticity). But it proved a coupon to success. The independent Liberals were reduced to just twenty-eight MPs, and even *Asquith – still the leader of the party – lost his seat.

Lloyd George never again held office, though in spite of past animosities he did succeed Asquith as leader of the much reduced Liberal party (1926–31). His wife died in 1941 and in 1943 he married Frances Stevenson, who had been his private secretary since 1913. There is a memorial museum to him at Llanystumdwy, in Gwynedd, where he had spent much of his boyhood and to which he returned in his last years.

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