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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 October 2007, 15:46 GMT 16:46 UK
Profile: David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George replaced HH Asquith as prime minister in 1916
As a statue of David Lloyd George is unveiled, opinion on Britain's World War I prime minister continues to be divided.

Supporters praise Lloyd George for leading the country to victory in World War I and say he was a pioneer for establishing the first stage of a welfare state.

Unveiling the 8ft bronze statue in London's Parliament Square, Prince Charles said: "In the course of a decade, beginning approximately a century ago, he established himself as one of the greatest social reformers and war leaders of the 20th Century."

But Lloyd George's critics point to what they say are his failings.

In a letter to the Daily Telegraph ahead of the unveiling, playwright Harold Pinter, journalist John Pilger and former UN humanitarian co-ordinator for Iraq, Denis Halliday, criticise its existence.

They say that during his tenure - between 1916 and 1922 - Lloyd George ordered bombing in Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran.

They add that "these vicious policies continue unabated" in the present day with warplanes dropping bombs on Afghanistan and Iraq.

"All of which makes today's celebration of Lloyd George's legacy highly topical and disgraceful," they continue.

Coalition government

Lloyd George was the last leader of the Liberal Party to be prime minister at a time when the Labour Party had yet to establish itself as a strong contender.

In December 1916, he replaced HH Asquith as prime minister of the Liberal-Conservative coalition government.

His achievements in the last two years of the war included persuading the Royal Navy to introduce the convoy system where cargo ships went to the sea in large groups escorted by warships.

That dealt successfully with the problem of supply ships being attacked.

He was also responsible for the unification of the Allied military command under French general Ferdinand Foch.

After the conclusion of the war, Lloyd George played a major role in the Versailles peace treaty.

But in the summer of 1922, he was involved in a scandal involving the selling of knighthoods and peerages and later resigned as prime minister.

Constituency MP

Lloyd George - born in Manchester but deeply proud of his Welsh heritage - won a by-election for the Caernarvon Boroughs at the age of 27 and served as the constituency MP for the next 55 years.

He soon made a name for himself as a fine orator in the Commons and in 1905 was appointed to the Cabinet as Board of Trade President. He became chancellor three years later.

Lloyd George's 1909 "people's budget" provided for social insurance to be funded, in part, by land and income taxes.

The budget was rejected by the House of Lords which, in turn, led directly to the Parliament Act of 1911 under which peers lost their power of veto.

The welfare state was then established in the National Insurance Act of the same year.

After his resignation as prime minister, Lloyd George remained in Parliament but was marginalised politically.

He died in 1945, at the age of 82 - a year after being made Earl Lloyd George of Dwyfor.

Lloyd George's letters go online
29 Mar 05 |  Mid Wales


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