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Butler, Richard Austen

Richard Austen Butler, 1902–82, British politician. Educated at Cambridge, he entered Parliament in 1929 as a Conservative. As minister of education (1941–45), he piloted through Parliament the Education Act of 1944, which provided free primary and secondary education for all. He was minister of labor in 1945, before the Conservatives lost power. He later held almost every senior cabinet position except prime minister. He was chancellor of the exchequer (1951–55), home secretary (1957–62), deputy prime minister and first secretary of state (1962–63), and foreign secretary (1963–64). He was leader of the House of Commons (1955–61) and lord privy seal (1955–59). Retiring from politics, he accepted a life peerage as Baron Butler of Saffron Walden in 1965 and was master of Trinity College, Cambridge, from 1965 to 1978.

See his autobiography, The Art of the Possible (1971); biography by A. Howard (1987).

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Butler, Richard Austen

Butler, Richard Austen (1902–82). Born in India and educated at Cambridge, ‘Rab’ Butler entered Parliament in 1929 as MP for Saffron Walden. As president of the Board of Education he was responsible for the Education Act (1944) which introduced a tripartite secondary system and the ‘11-plus’ examination. During his time as chairman of the Conservative research department, Butler helped to reconcile the Tories to the welfare state, reviving their fortunes in the post-war era. He served in all three of the great offices of state, as chancellor (1951–5), home secretary (1957–62), and foreign secretary (1963–5). He was twice passed over for leadership of the party in favour of Macmillan in 1957 and Douglas-Home in 1963. Butler retired from politics in 1965, became a life peer, and accepted the mastership of Trinity College, Cambridge.

Richard A. Smith

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