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Allan, Harold

Allan, Harold

March 15, 1895
February 18, 1953

Sir Harold Allan was born in Spring Bank, Portland, Jamaica. He was educated at Calabar Elementary School and Mico Teacher's College, as well as being privately tutored. He later became assistant headmaster at Calabar and headmaster at Titchfield Upper School. He entered the Jamaican legislature in 1935, representing the parish constituency of eastern Portland as an independent legislator. In 1938 he was one of the three commissioners appointed by the secretary of the state for the colonies, Malcolm Mc-Donald, to investigate the disturbances at the Frome Sugar Estate following labor riots all over Jamaica. In late 1938, he pleaded Jamaica's deplorable socioeconomic conditions to the Colonial Office in London and was successful in establishing the Unemployment Scheme and the West Kingston Rehabilitation Center, as well as factories to produce cornmeal and condensers.

Allan played a critical role in the formation of a new constitution in 1944, since as an independent member of the legislature he was the bridge between the two main political parties (the Jamaica Labour Party and the People's National Party). Allan's impressive ability as a legislator led Jamaica's chief minister, Alexander Bustamante, to appoint him minister of finance and general purposes after the first general elections, in 1944. Allan was the first Jamaican to preside over the country's budget and initiate financial discussions in the Legislative Council, as this was the traditional task of the colonial secretary.

In 1947 Allan led the international trade talks on behalf of the West Indian delegation in Geneva. He defended preferential tariffs, trade within the British Commonwealth, and an increase in the export of West Indian goods. Later, in 1947, he was appointed British West Indian advisor to the British delegation at the Havana Conference on Trade and Employment. He also created numerous administrative departments in Jamaica, such as the Land Authority and the Central Housing Authority. He also introduced the concept of the Non-Residents' Business Law, which led to a revision of Jamaica's immigration laws. In 1948, in recognition of his service, Allan was knighted by King George VI of Great Britain.

In 1951, at the annual Festival of Britain (where colonial members were usually invited as delegates), Allan used the opportunity to lobby James Griffiths, the secretary of state for the colonies. Allan noted that Great Britain undermined the export of Jamaican cigars by not signing the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT). He also lobbied for a more liberal immigration policy to aid West Indian migrants and for fewer restrictions on work visas.

Allan remained an independent candidate until his premature death at the age of fifty-eight. At the time of his death he was the chair of a committee drafting a self-governing constitution, and it was expected that he would become the first minister of finance under a revised constitution in 1953. Allan, a trained teacher, left an indelible mark as a civic leader and politician. He was a legislator between 1935 and 1953; a privy counselor from 1942 to 1945; the leader of the House of Representatives in 1945; an organizer, founder, and secretary of the Association of Local Government; and he organized Jamaica's All-Island Championships in football and cricket.

See also Bustamante, Alexander; Jamaica Labour Party; People's National Party


Eaton, George E. Alexander Bustamante and Modern Jamaica. Kingston, Jamaica: Kingston Publishers, 1975.

dave gosse (2005)

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