Early life and political career — Joseph Chamberlain seated and Austen Chamberlain , Chamberlain was born on 18 March in a house called Southbourne in the Edgbaston district of Birmingham.
Early life and political career — Joseph Chamberlain seated and Austen Chamberlain , Chamberlain was born on 18 March in a house called Southbourne in the Edgbaston district of Birmingham. Joseph Chamberlain had had another son, Austen Chamberlain , by his first marriage.
In , as Governor of Birmingham's General Hospital, and along with "no more than fifteen" other dignitaries, Chamberlain became a founding member of the national United Hospitals Committee of the British Medical Association. The two had a son and a daughter. During the " Khaki election " of he made speeches in support of Joseph Chamberlain's Liberal Unionists. The Liberal Unionists were allied with the Conservatives and later merged with them under the name "Unionist Party", which in became known as the "Conservative and Unionist Party".
Chamberlain was made chairman of the Town Planning Committee. The start of war in prevented implementation of his plans. Apart from his father Joseph, five of Chamberlain's uncles had also attained the chief Birmingham civic dignity: As a Lord Mayor in wartime, Chamberlain had a huge burden of work and he insisted that his councillors and officials work equally hard. Rise of Neville Chamberlain portrait of Chamberlain by William Orpen Chamberlain threw himself into parliamentary work, begrudging the times when he was unable to attend debates and spending much time on committee work.
He was chairman of the national Unhealthy Areas Committee —21 and in that role, had visited the slums of London, Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool and Cardiff. He immediately resigned, and was replaced by Chancellor of the Exchequer Stanley Baldwin. Ramsay MacDonald became the first Labour Prime Minister, but the Labour government fell within months, necessitating another general election.
By a margin of only 77 votes, Chamberlain narrowly defeated Labour candidate Oswald Mosley who later led the British Union of Fascists. Before he left office in , 21 of the 25 bills had passed into law. Many of the Boards were controlled by Labour, and such Boards had defied the government by distributing relief funds to the able-bodied unemployed.
Chamberlain spoke in the Commons for two and a half hours on the second reading of the Bill, and when he concluded he was applauded by all parties.
The Bill passed into law. Baldwin and his government resigned and Labour leader Ramsay MacDonald — took office. Joseph Chamberlain had advocated a similar policy, " Imperial Preference "; and concluded his address by noting the appropriateness of his seeking to enact his father's proposal. At the end of the speech, Sir Austen Chamberlain walked down from the backbenches and shook his brother's hand. He maintained the severe budget cuts that had been agreed at the inception of the National Government.
Between and , Chamberlain halved the percentage of the budget devoted to interest on the war debt. The Conference came to nothing. US President Franklin Roosevelt sent word that he would not consider any war debt cancellation. He told the Commons "We have now finished the story of Bleak House and are sitting down this afternoon to enjoy the first chapter of Great Expectations. During the campaign, deputy Labour leader Arthur Greenwood had attacked Chamberlain for spending money on rearmament, saying that the rearmament policy was "the merest scaremongering; disgraceful in a statesman of Mr Chamberlain's responsible position, to suggest that more millions of money needed to be spent on armaments".
He wrote in his diary that Wallis Simpson , Edward VIII's intended wife, was "an entirely unscrupulous woman who is not in love with the King but is exploiting him for her own purposes. She has already ruined him in money and jewels Soon after the abdication Baldwin announced that he would remain until shortly after the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.
On 28 May, two weeks after the Coronation, Baldwin resigned, advising the King to send for Chamberlain. National Government — and Chamberlain war ministry Chamberlain as prime minister Upon his accession Chamberlain considered calling a general election, but with three and a half years remaining of the then current Parliament's term he decided to wait.
At age 68, he was the second-eldest person in the 20th century behind Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman to become Prime Minister for the first time, and was widely seen as a caretaker who would lead the Conservative Party until the next election, and then step down in favour of a younger man, with Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden a likely candidate.
From the start of Chamberlain's premiership a number of would-be successors were rumoured to be jockeying for position. Although he had worked closely with the President of the Board of Trade , Walter Runciman over the tariff issue, Chamberlain dismissed him from his post, offering Runciman the token position of Lord Privy Seal , which an angry Runciman declined.
Runciman, a member of the Liberal National Party, was thought by Chamberlain to be lazy. These reports were to be integrated with the intent of co-ordinating the passage of legislation through the current Parliament, the term of which was to expire in November According to Chamberlain biographer Robert Self, these appeared relaxed and modern, showing an ability to speak directly to the camera.
This Act was aimed at bettering working conditions in factories, and placed limits on the working hours of women and children. Another major law passed that year was the Holidays with Pay Act. Likewise, the raising of the school-leaving age to 15, scheduled for implementation on 1 September , did not go into effect. The Anglo-Irish Trade War , sparked by the withholding of money that Ireland had agreed to pay the United Kingdom, had caused economic losses on both sides, and the two nations were anxious for a settlement.
Chamberlain as Chancellor had taken a hard-line stance against concessions to the Irish, but he was persuaded that the strained ties were affecting relations with other Dominions, and sought a settlement with Ireland. De Valera sought not only to alter the constitutional status of Ireland, but to overturn other aspects of the Anglo-Irish Treaty , most notably the issue of partition , as well as obtaining full control of the three " Treaty Ports " which had remained in British control.
Britain, on the other hand, wished to retain the Treaty Ports, at least in time of war, and to obtain the money that Ireland had agreed to pay. There was no provision in the treaties for British access to the Treaty Ports in time of war, but Chamberlain accepted de Valera's oral assurance that in the event of war the British would have access.
European foreign policy of the Chamberlain ministry Early days May — March Chamberlain sought to conciliate Germany and make the Nazi state a partner in a stable Europe. Foreign Minister Konstantin von Neurath was supposed to visit Britain in July but cancelled his visit. Chamberlain believed that it was essential to cement relations with Italy in the hope that an Anglo—Italian alliance would forestall Hitler from imposing his rule over Austria. Eden believed that Chamberlain was being too hasty in talking with Italy and holding out the prospect of de jure recognition of Italy's conquest of Ethiopia.
Chamberlain concluded that Eden would have to accept his policy, or resign. Despite efforts by other Cabinet members to prevent it, Eden resigned from office. Though the beleaguered Austrians requested help from Britain none was forthcoming. Heaven knows I don't want to get back to alliances but if Germany continues to behave as she has done lately she may drive us to it.
Chamberlain's address met with the approval of the House. With three million ethnic Germans, the Sudetenland represented the largest German population outside the "Reich".
After the fall of Austria, the Cabinet's Foreign Policy Committee considered seeking a "grand alliance" to thwart Germany, or alternatively, an assurance to France of assistance if the French went to war. Instead, the committee chose to advocate that Czechoslovakia be urged to make the best terms it could with Germany. In exchange for de jure recognition of Italy's Ethiopian conquest, Italy agreed to withdraw some Italian "volunteers" from the Nationalist pro-Franco side of the Spanish Civil War.
By now the Nationalists strongly had the upper hand in that war, and they completed their victory the following year. This incident caused unrest among the Sudeten Germans, and Germany was then said to be moving troops to the border. In response to the report, Prague moved troops to the German border.
Halifax sent a note to Germany warning that if France intervened in the crisis on Czechoslovakia's behalf, Britain might support France. Tensions appeared to calm, and Chamberlain and Halifax were applauded for their "masterly" handling of the crisis.
If war seemed inevitable, Chamberlain would fly to Germany to negotiate directly with Hitler. Munich Lord Runciman continued his work, attempting to pressure the Czechoslovak government into concessions. The Germans made considerable propaganda out of the incident, though the Prague government tried to conciliate them by dismissing Czech police who had been involved. As the tempest grew, Runciman concluded that there was no point in attempting further negotiations until after Hitler's speech.
The mission never resumed. There was tremendous tension in the final days before Hitler's speech on the last day of the Rally, as Britain, France, and Czechoslovakia all partially mobilised their troops. Thousands gathered outside 10 Downing Street on the night of the speech. At last Hitler addressed his wildly enthusiastic followers: The condition of the Sudeten Germans is indescribable. It is sought to annihilate them.
As human beings they are oppressed and scandalously treated in an intolerable fashion The depriving of these people of their rights must come to an end. I have stated that the "Reich" would not tolerate any further oppression of these three and a half million Germans, and I would ask the statesmen of foreign countries to be convinced that this is no mere form of words. Hitler accepted and Chamberlain flew to Germany on the morning of 15 September; this was the first time, excepting a short jaunt at an industrial fair, that Chamberlain had ever flown.
Chamberlain flew to Munich and then travelled by rail to Hitler's retreat at Berchtesgaden. Hitler demanded the annexation of the Sudetenland, and through questioning him, Chamberlain was able to obtain assurances that Hitler had no designs on the remainder of Czechoslovakia or on the areas in Eastern Europe which had German minorities. After the meeting Chamberlain returned to London, believing that he had obtained a breathing space during which agreement could be reached and the peace preserved.
Czechoslovakia would receive international guarantees of its independence which would replace existing treaty obligations—principally the French pledge to the Czechoslovaks. Under considerable pressure the Czechoslovaks also agreed, causing the Czechoslovak government to fall.
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Arthur Neville Chamberlain was born on 18 March in Birmingham into a political family.
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