The Second Labour Government

  • Created by: GrB
  • Created on: 10-05-17 10:07

The Second Labour Government

The Situation in 1929

  • MacDonald was head of a minority government, Liberals held the balance of power
  • The HOL still had a Conservative majority and there were few Labour peers
  • Unemployment stood at 1.2 millionn and was concentrated in heavy industry
  • The party had moved away from socialist ideas (under MacDonald) and were committed to free trade
  • Labour needed to mantain confidence abroad in the pound as earnings from invisible exports were so high and depended on the pound being a solid currency
  • Unlikely from the start that Labour would offer substantial domestic change

The Labour Ministers

  • Arthur Henderson, Foreign Secretary
  • J.H.Thomas, Minister for Unemployment
  • Philip Snowden (conservative in outlook), Chancellor
  • John Clynes, Home Secretary
  • Sidney Webb, Colonial Secretary
  • Margaret Bondfield, Minister of Labour

Domestic Measures

Domestic policy was limited due to declining trade and other economic problems. Housing Act 1930 was passed by Arthur Greenwood and restores Wheatley's subsidies for local authorities building houses, it also began subsidies for slum clearance. This led to more slum clearance than ever before and the building of 700,000 new homes

Unemployment Insurance Act (1930)

Restored the cuts in uneployment provision and increased the number of workers eligible for transitional benefit. Requirement that those recieving payments be genuinely seeking work was removed as being an insult to the unemployed. Labour used a surplus in the fund created by compulsory insurance premiums paid by workers in the 1920s. By 1931, unemployment was rising and the fund was in deficit.

Road Traffic Act (1930)

High levels of RTAs by the late 1920s led to a royal commission being set up. Most of its findings were passed into law by Herbert Morrison. Driving offences like dangerous driving and driving under the influence were introduced. Drivers needed third party insurance and the first driving tests were introduced.The Highway Code was introduced. Bus and Coach drivers were given restricted hours to ensure safety. The act although useful was not specifically socialist or radical.

Increasing State Control

London Transport Bill (1931) brought London trams buses and underground under one public authority.

Other Measures Labour Tried To Pass

Proposed electoral Reform, ending plural voting and introducing STV. The Liberals didn't accept these. The Lords rejected a bill to raise school leaving age to 15. The Liberals rejected a trade disputes bill to amend the Act of 1927 and a Land Utilisation Bill was rejected by the Lords.

How Successful Was Domestic Policy?

Unemployment rose and depression intensified so reforming measures involving high spending were avoided. There was no fundamental reforming legislation but some useful measures.

Economic Policies

Britain was a major trading nation and in 1929 there was a catastrophic fall in world trade ($68,640 to $26,600).

  • The rule that someone must be seeking work was removed, to stop benefits, evidence had to be provided that the person


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