White Hart Crest of the Royal County of Berkshire David Nash Ford's Royal Berkshire History

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Graphic illustration of Herbert Henry Asquith, Earl of OxfordHerbert Henry Asquith (1852-1928)
Born: 12th September 1852 at Morley, West Yorkshire
Earl of Oxford & Asquith
Died: 15th February 1928 at Sutton Courtenay, Berkshire

A graduate of Balliol College, Oxford, Asquith became a member of Parliament in 1886. He served in Campbell-Bannerman's government (1906) as home secretary and chancellor of the Exchequer. He also served in his cabinet and succeeded him as prime minister in 1908.

Asquith's ministry was turbulent to say the least. When the Lords rejected the Liberals budget in 1909 it led to open conflict between the two houses of parliament that resulted in the Parliament Act of 1911 shifting the balance of legislative power from the Lords to the Commons, preventing the Lords from rejecting public legislation. That bill was passed by the Lords due to threats by the Liberals to pack the Lords with Liberal peers to carry the legislation. He also was confronted industrial problems, challenges from suffragettes and the potential for the smouldering question of Irish home rule to ignite civil war. Notable legislative achievements included passage of the National Insurance Act (1911) which provided insurance covering unemployment and illness.

Asquith lead a coalition government following the outbreak of World War I, but was ousted by Lloyd George, another Liberal, who had secured the backing of Conservatives to win election in December, 1916. The Lloyd George election caused a split in the Liberal Party, which has to be considered one of the reasons for its decline during the period between World War I and World War II. Asquith remained party leader until 1926, when he retired to Sutton Courtenay in Berkshire.

Reproduced by kind permission of Britannia.com.

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