First National ministry
The First National Ministry was formed by Ramsay MacDonald in 1931, and existed from 24 August 1931 until the reconstruction of the government, following the general election in October 1931. This ministry was the first "national government" coalition, of which there would be four. It was composed of members from National Labour, the Conservative Party, the Liberal Party, and the Liberal National Party.
The outgoing Labour cabinet, which was a minority government, was unable to agree upon proposals to cut public expenditure. The Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald submitted his resignation to King George V on 24 August 1931.
The King persuaded MacDonald that it was his duty to form a new government to address the financial crisis. The original idea was that the National government would be free to draw upon the talents of members of all parties, so that it would represent the nation as a whole rather than being a coalition of parties like those which had existed between 1915 and 1922. However as the main body of the Labour Party refused to co-operate, the government comprised members from MacDonald's small group of National Labour supporters, the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party.
The Liberal Party was split into three factions. The mainstream party led by Sir Herbert Samuel, who had been the Deputy Leader of the party before the formation of the National Government, continued to support free trade. The Liberal National group led by Sir John Simon had accepted the Conservative policy of protectionism. These two Liberal factions were supporters of the National Ministry. The third group of Lloyd George or Independent Liberals were opposed to the ministry (David Lloyd George had led the party until 1931, but during the crisis he was ill and he took no part in the discussions which led to Liberal participation in government).
The new Ministry was formed on 24 August 1931 when MacDonald was re-appointed Prime Minister. A smaller than usual cabinet was appointed the following day.
The First National Ministry had not originally been intended to fight a general election, but under Conservative pressure one was soon called. The Samuelite Liberal Party was opposed to a general election but found it could not prevent one. Parliament was dissolved on 8 October 1931.
The United Kingdom general election, 1931 took place on 27 October 1931 leading to a landslide victory for candidates supporting the National government. MacDonald reconstructed his government on 5 November 1931, creating the Second National Ministry.
- Ramsay MacDonald – Prime Minister and Leader of the House of Commons*
- Lord Sankey – Lord Chancellor*
- Stanley Baldwin – Lord President**
- Philip Snowden – Chancellor of the Exchequer*
- Sir Herbert Samuel – Home Secretary***
- Lord Reading – Foreign Secretary and Leader of the House of Lords***
- Sir Samuel Hoare – Secretary for India**
- J.H. Thomas – Dominions Secretary and Colonial Secretary*
- Sir Philip Cunliffe-Lister – President of the Board of Trade**
- Neville Chamberlain – Minister of Health**
- * = Member of National Labour
- ** = Member of the Conservative Party
- *** = Member of the Liberal Party
- **** = Member of the Liberal National Party
The First National Government was composed of members of the following parties:
Members of the Cabinet are in bold face.
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- Jenkins, Roy. Baldwin (1987) excerpt and text search
- Mowat, Charles Loch. Britain between the Wars: 1918-1945 (1955) PP 413-79
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