Herbert Louis Samuel 1st Viscount Samuel

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Samuel, Sir Herbert, 1st Viscount Samuel (1870–1963). Samuel's father, who died when Samuel was 7, was a Jewish banker. After taking a first in history at Balliol College, Oxford, Samuel entered Parliament as a Liberal in 1902. In the Liberal government of 1906 he served as under-secretary for the Home Office and entered the cabinet in 1909 as chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, transferring to the postmaster-generalship the following year. He was home secretary when Asquith resigned in 1916, followed him into opposition, and lost his seat at the ‘Coupon’ election of 1918. In 1920–5 he served as high commissioner in Palestine and in 1926 presided over a commission on the coal industry which, by recommending a cut in wages, helped to provoke the General Strike. Samuel returned to Parliament in 1929 and was acting leader of the party (in the absence of Lloyd George) at the time of the crisis of 1931. He joined MacDonald's National Government as home secretary but resigned the following year when it moved towards protection. He was given a peerage in 1937. Respected rather than outstanding, Samuel's career rose and fell with the fortunes of his party.

J. A. Cannon

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