A Victim of His Times
Born into the aristocracy, Beauchamp was driven by a sense of noblesse oblige and devoted his life to public service. Though some of this was ceremonial, Beauchamp was keen to involve himself in practical politics, where he showed his independence of mind. He joined the Liberals as they pushed through change against obstruction from his own landowning class. He championed Irish Home Rule. In 1914 he opposed entry into the war and lost any chance of promotion. However, he remained deeply loyal to his party even after its split and decline, and worked tirelessly in its cause.
His life touched on great events such as the formation of Australia and, in Britain, the great reforms of 1906–9, the 1911 Parliament Act, the crisis of 1914, the creation of the Irish Free State, the Liberal collapse, the first Labour government and the economic slump. Through all these, he busied himself in party affairs, but one aspect of his private life worked against him and, in a Sophoclean twist, he fell from grace.
This book documents the Earl’s involvement in politics, explores his personality and looks carefully at the issues that brought him down. In the light of this analysis, it is hoped that historians will recognize his significant contribution to the events of his day.
Chapter 15. Man of Peace
Chapter 15 Man of Peace While Walmer Castle remained a place of repose, Earl Beauchamp spent most of his time attending to his ministerial duties in the House of Lords with the utmost regularity and conscientiousness. What his engagements actually were and what he was obliged to do we learn from the parliamen- tary records. Party honours On 23 February 1914, the Earl of Selborne rose to move: ‘that a contribu- tion to Party funds should not be a consideration to a Minister when he recommends any name for an honour to His Majesty; that effectual meas- ures should be taken in order to assure the nation that Governments, from whatever political Party they are drawn, will act according to this rule; and that this House requests the concurrence of the House of Commons in the foregoing Resolution’.1 The First Commissioner of Works, Earl Beauchamp, said that his Government offered ‘no opposition to this Motion’, and the House agreed to it. 1 See Parliamentary Debates, House of Lords, 23 February 1914, vol. XV, cols 252–96. 302 Chapter 15 School provision at Warrington Lord Sheffield2 asked Earl Beauchamp what steps the Board of Education was taking to prevent overcrowding in schools and hasten the provision of more places.3 The Earl responded, stating that the Board was pressing the local education authorities to expedite the provisions of more places in the new schools. The roof of Westminster Hall Lord Southwark4 asked the First Commissioner of Works whether he could give any...
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