Attlee ministry

Clement Attlee was invited by King George VI to form the Attlee ministry in the United Kingdom in July 1945,[1] succeeding Winston Churchill as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. The Labour Party had won a landslide victory at the 1945 general election, and went on to enact policies of what became known as the post-war consensus, including the establishment of the welfare state and the nationalisation of some industries.[2] The government's spell in office was marked by post-war austerity measures, the violent crushing of pro-independence and communist movements in Malaya, the grant of independence to India, the engagement in the Cold War against Soviet Communism as well as the creation of the country's National Health Service (NHS).

Attlee ministries
  • 1945–1950
  • 1950–1951
Attlee (1950)
Date formed
  • First: 26 July 1945 (1945-07-26)
  • Second: 23 February 1950 (1950-02-23)
Date dissolved
  • First: 23 February 1950 (1950-02-23)
  • Second: 26 October 1951 (1951-10-26)
People and organisations
MonarchGeorge VI
Prime MinisterClement Attlee
Prime Minister's history1945–1951
Deputy Prime MinisterHerbert Morrison
Total no. of members243 appointments
Member partyLabour Party
Status in legislatureMajority
Opposition partyConservative Party
Opposition leaderWinston Churchill
Outgoing election1951 general election
Legislature term(s)
  • 38th UK Parliament
  • 39th UK Parliament
PredecessorChurchill caretaker ministry
SuccessorThird Churchill ministry

Attlee went on to win a narrow majority of five seats at the 1950 general election, forming the second Attlee ministry.[3] Just twenty months after that election, Attlee called a new election for 25 October 1951 in an attempt to gain a larger majority, but was narrowly defeated by the Conservative Party, sending Labour into a 13-year spell in opposition.


The Labour Party came to power in the United Kingdom following its unexpected victory in the July 1945 general election. Party leader Clement Attlee became Prime Minister replacing Winston Churchill in late July. Ernest Bevin was Foreign Secretary until shortly before his death in April 1951. Hugh Dalton became Chancellor of the Exchequer, but had to resign in 1947, while James Chuter Ede was Home Secretary for the whole duration of the Attlee ministries' stay in power.[4]

Other notable figures in the government included: Herbert Morrison, Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the House of Commons, who replaced Bevin as Foreign Secretary in March 1951; Sir Stafford Cripps was initially President of the Board of Trade but replaced Dalton as Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1947; Hugh Gaitskell held several minor posts before replacing Cripps as Chancellor in 1950; Nye Bevan was Minister of Health; Arthur Greenwood was Lord Privy Seal and Paymaster General while future Prime Minister Harold Wilson became the youngest member of the cabinet in the 20th century (at the age of 31) when he was made President of the Board of Trade in 1947. The most notable of the few female members of the government was Ellen Wilkinson, who was Minister of Education until her early death in 1947.


It was an "age of austerity", as wartime rationing was continued despite the Allied Forces' victory, and was even expanded upon to include bread. Living conditions were poor; instead of expansion, the country's task was to replace the national wealth destroyed or used up during the war. The Great Depression did not return, and full employment was created. Returning veterans were successfully reabsorbed into the postwar society.[5] The Attlee government nationalised about 20% of the economy, including coal, railways, road transport, the Bank of England, civil aviation, electricity and gas, and steel. However, there was no money for investment to modernise these industries, and there was no effort made to turn control over to union members. The Attlee government greatly expanded the welfare state, with the National Health Service Act 1946, which nationalised the hospitals and provided for free universal healthcare. The National Insurance Act 1946 provided sickness and unemployment benefits for adults, plus retirement pensions. The National Assistance Act 1948 provided a safety net for anyone not otherwise covered. More council housing was built, and plans were made through the New Towns Act 1946 for the growth of suburbs, and to reduce overcrowding in major cities such as London and Glasgow. Since there was little money for detailed planning, the government adopted Keynesianism, which allowed for planning in the sense of overall control of the national deficit and surplus.[6][7][8] Two laws written by the Conservatives during the war were expanded, the Family Allowances Act 1945 and the Education Act 1944.

The Transport Act 1947 established the British Transport Commission, which took over control of the railways from the Big FourGreat Western Railway, London, Midland and Scottish Railway, London and North Eastern Railway and the Southern Railway—to form British Railways.[9]

In foreign affairs, the government was active in the United Nations and negotiated a $5 billion loan from the United States and Canada in 1946. It eagerly joined the Marshall Plan in 1948. It could no longer afford to support the Greek government and encouraged the U.S. to take its place through the Truman Doctrine in 1947. It took an active role in joining the United States in the Cold War and forming NATO. It gave independence to India, Pakistan, Ceylon and Burma and moved to strengthen the British Commonwealth.[10]

Nationalisation projects

The Labour Party comes to power with a programme for nationalising the essential sectors of the economy, some of which had been weakened during wartime: finance, heavy industry and natural resources, along with communication and transportation infrastructure.[11][12][13]
Coal industry under the National Coal Board.[14]
Bank of England.[15]
National Health Service created (with separate units in England, Wales, and Scotland and for Northern Ireland) taking over hospitals and making medical services free. NHS started operations in 1948.[16][17]
British Electricity Authority and area electricity boards.[18]
Cable & Wireless.[19]
National rail, inland (not marine) water transport, some road haulage, some road passenger transport and Thomas Cook & Son under the British Transport Commission. Separate elements operated as British Railways, British Road Services, and British Waterways.[20]
Local authority gas supply undertakings in England, Scotland and Wales.[18]
Iron and Steel Corporation of Great Britain (privatised by the Conservative Government in 1955, and renationalised by Labour in 1967 as British Steel Corporation).[21][22][23]


Trafford General Hospital, known as the birthplace of the NHS

Attlee's Health Minister, Aneurin Bevan, fought hard against the general disapproval of the medical establishment, including the British Medical Association, by creating the National Health Service in 1948. This was a publicly funded healthcare system, which offered treatment for all, regardless of income, free of charge at the point of use. Reflecting pent-up demand that had long existed for medical services, the NHS treated some 8,500,000 dental patients and dispensed more than 5,000,000 pairs of spectacles during its first year of operation.[24]

Consultants benefited from the new system by being paid salaries that provided an acceptable standard of living without the need for them to resort to private practice.[25] The NHS brought major improvements in the health of working-class people, with deaths from diphtheria, pneumonia, and tuberculosis significantly reduced.[26] Although there were often disputes about its organisation and funding, British political parties continued to voice their general support for the NHS in order to remain electable.[27]

In the field of health care, funds were allocated to modernisation and extension schemes aimed at improving administrative efficiency. Improvements were made in nursing accommodation in order to recruit more nurses and reduce labour shortages which were keeping 60,000 beds out of use, and efforts were made to reduce the imbalance "between an excess of fever and tuberculosis (TB) beds and a shortage of maternity beds".[28]

BCG vaccinations were introduced for the protection of medical students, midwives, nurses, and contacts of patients with tuberculosis,[29] a pension scheme was set up for employees of the newly established NHS,[30] and the Radioactive Substances Act of 1948 set out general provisions to control radioactive substances.[31] Numerous lesser reforms were also introduced, some of which were of great benefit to certain segments of British society, such as the mentally deficient and the blind.[32] Between 1948 and 1951, Attlee's government increased spending on health from £6,000,000,000 to £11,000,000,000: an increase of over 80%, and from 2.1% to 3.6% of GDP.[33]


The government set about implementing William Beveridge's plans for the creation of a 'cradle to grave' welfare state, and set in place an entirely new system of social security. Among the most important pieces of legislation was the National Insurance Act 1946, in which people in work paid a flat rate of national insurance. In return, they (and the wives of male contributors) were eligible for flat-rate pensions, sickness benefit, unemployment benefit, and funeral benefit. Various other pieces of legislation provided for child benefit and support for people with no other source of income.[34] In 1949, unemployment, sickness and maternity benefits were exempted from taxation.[35]

A block grant introduced in 1948 helped the social services provided by local authorities.[36] Personal Social Services or welfare services were developed in 1948 for individual and families in general, particularly special groups such as the mentally disordered, deprived children, the elderly, and the handicapped.[37]

The Attlee Government increased pensions and other benefits, with pensions raised to become more of a living income than they had ever been. War pensions and allowances (for both World Wars) were increased by an Act of 1946 which gave the wounded man with an allowance for his wife and children if he married after he had been wounded, thereby removing a grievance of more than twenty years standing.[38] Other improvements were made in war pensions during Attlee's tenure as prime minister. A Constant Attendance Allowance was tripled, an Unemployability Allowance was tripled from 10s to 30s a week, and a special hardship allowance of up to £1 a week was introduced. In addition, the 1951 Budget made further improvements in the supplementary allowances for many war pensioners. From 1945 onwards, three out of every four pension claims had been successful, whilst after the First World War only one pension claim in three was allowed.[39] Under the Superannuation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act of 1948, employees of a body representative of local authorities or of the officers of local authorities could be admitted "on suitable terms to the superannuation fund of a local authority."[40] In 1951, a comforts allowance was introduced that was automatically paid to war pensioners "receiving unemployability supplement and constant attendance allowance."[41]

A more extensive system of social welfare benefits was established by the Attlee Government, which did much to reduce acute social deprivation. The cumulative impact of the Attlee's Government's health and welfare policies was such that all the indices of health (such as statistics of school medical or dental officers, or of medical officers of health) showed signs of improvement, with continual improvements in survival rates for infants and increased life expectancy for the elderly.[36] The success of the Attlee Government's welfare legislation in reducing poverty was such that, in the general election of 1950, according to one study, "Labour propaganda could make much of the claim that social security had eradicated the most abject destitution of the 1930s".[24]


The New Towns Act of 1946 set up development corporations to construct new towns, while the Town and Country Planning Act of 1947 instructed county councils to prepare development plans and also provided compulsory purchase powers.[42] The Attlee Government also extended the powers of local authorities to requisition houses and parts of houses, and made the acquisition of land less difficult than before.[43] The Housing (Scotland) Act of 1949 provided grants of 75% (87.5% in the Highlands and Islands) towards modernisation costs payable by the Treasury to local authorities.[44]

In 1949, local authorities were empowered to provide people suffering from poor health with public housing at subsidised rents.[45]

To assist home ownership, the limit on the amount of money that people could borrow from their local authority in order to purchase or build a home was raised from £800 to £1,500 in 1945, and to £5,000 in 1949.[46] Under the National Assistance Act of 1948, local authorities had a duty "to provide emergency temporary accommodation for families which become homeless through no fault of their own."[47]

A large house-building programme was carried out with the intention of providing millions of people with high-quality homes.[24] A housing bill passed in 1946 increased Treasury subsidies for the construction of local authority housing in England and Wales.[42] Four out of five houses constructed under Labour were council properties built to more generous specifications than before the Second World War, and subsidies kept down council rents. Altogether, these policies provided public-sector housing with its biggest ever boost up until that point, while low-wage earners particularly benefited from these developments. Although the Attlee Government failed to meet its targets, primarily due to economic constraints, over 1,000,000 new homes were built between 1945 and 1951 (a significant achievement under the circumstances) which ensured that decent, affordable housing was available to many low-income families for the first time ever.[24]

Women and children

A number of reforms were embarked upon to improve conditions for women and children. In 1946, universal family allowances were introduced to provide financial support to households for raising children.[48][49] These benefits had been legislated for the previous year by Churchill's Family Allowances Act 1945, and was the first measure pushed through parliament by Attlee's government.[50] The Conservatives would later criticise Labour for having been "too hasty" in introducing family allowances.[43]

A Married Women (Restraint Upon Anticipation) Act was passed in 1949 "to equalise, to render inoperative any restrictions upon anticipation or alienation attached to the enjoyment of property by a woman," while the Married Women (Maintenance) Act of 1949 was enacted with the intention of improving the adequacy and duration of financial benefits for married women.[51]

The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act of 1950 amended an Act of 1885 to bring prostitutes within the law and safeguard them from abduction and abuse.[52] The Criminal Justice Act of 1948 restricted imprisonment for juveniles and brought improvements to the probation and remand centre systems, while the passage of the Justices of the Peace Act of 1949 led to extensive reforms of magistrates courts.[53] The Attlee Government also abolished the marriage bar in the Civil Service, thereby enabling married women to work in that institution.[54]

In 1946, the government set up a National Institute of Houseworkers as a means of providing a socially democratic variety of domestic service.[55]

By late 1946, agreed standards of training were established, which was followed by the opening of a training headquarters and the opening of an additional nine training centres in Wales, Scotland, and then nationwide throughout Great Britain. The National Health Service Act of 1946 indicated that domestic help should be provided for households where that help is required "owing to the presence of any person who is ill, lying-in, an expectant mother, mentally defective, aged or a child not over compulsory school age". 'Home help' therefore included the provision of home-helps for nursing and expectant mothers and for mothers with children under the age of five, and by 1952 some 20,000 women were engaged in this service.[56]

Planning and development

Development rights were nationalised while the government attempted to take all development profits for the state. Strong planning authorities were set up to control land use, and issued manuals of guidance which stressed the importance of safeguarding agricultural land. A strong chain of regional offices was set up within its planning ministry to provide a strong lead in regional development policies.[57]

Comprehensive Development Areas (CDAs), a designation under the Town and Country Planning Act of 1947, allowed local authorities to acquire property in the designated areas using powers of compulsory purchase in order to re-plan and develop urban areas suffering from urban blight or war damage.[58]

Workers' rights

Various measures were carried out to improve conditions in the workplace. Entitlement to sick leave was greatly extended, and sick pay schemes were introduced for local authority administrative, professional and technical workers in 1946 and for various categories of manual workers in 1948.[59] Workers' compensation was also significantly improved.[60]

The Fair Wages Resolution of 1946 required any contractor working on a public project to at least match the pay rates and other employment conditions set in the appropriate collective agreement.[61][62][63] In 1946, Purchase Tax was removed completely from kitchen fittings and crockery, while the rate was reduced on various gardening items.[55]

The Fire Services Act 1947 introduced a new pension scheme for firefighters,[64] while the Electricity Act 1947 introduced better retirement benefits for workers in that industry.[65] A Workers' Compensation (Supplementation) Act was passed in 1948 that introduced benefits for workers with certain asbestos-related diseases which had occurred before 1948.[66] The Merchant Shipping Act of 1948 and the Merchant Shipping (Safety Convention) Act of 1949 were passed to improve conditions for seamen. The Shops Act of 1950 consolidated previous legislation which provided that no one could be employed in a shop for more than six hours without having a break for at least 20 minutes. The legislation also required a lunch break of at least 45 minutes for anyone for worked between 11:30am and 2:30pm, and a half-hour tea break for anyone working between 4pm and 7pm.[67] The government also strengthened a Fair Wages Resolution, with a clause that required all employers getting government contracts to recognise the rights of their workers to join trade unions.[68]

The Trades Disputes Act 1927 was repealed, and a Dock Labour Scheme was introduced in 1947 to put an end to the casual system of hiring labour in the docks.[69] This scheme gave registered dockers the legal right to minimum work and decent conditions. Through the National Dock Labour Board (on which trade unions and employers had equal representation) the unions acquired control over recruitment and dismissal. Registered dockers laid off by employers within the Scheme had the right either to be taken on by another, or to generous compensation.[70] All dockers were registered under the Dock Labour Scheme, giving them a legal right to minimum work, holidays and sick pay.[71]

Wages for members of the police force were significantly increased.[72] The introduction of a Miner's Charter in 1946 instituted a five-day work week for miners and a standardised day wage structure,[36] and in 1948 a Colliery Workers Supplementary Scheme was approved, providing supplementary allowances to disabled coal-workers and their dependants.[73][74] In 1948, a pension scheme was set up to provide pension benefits for employees of the new NHS, as well as their dependents.[75] Under the Coal Industry Nationalisation (Superannuation) Regulations of 1950, a pension scheme for mineworkers was established.[76] Improvements were also made in farmworkers' wages,[39] and the Agricultural Wages Board in 1948 not only safeguarded wage levels, but also ensured that workers were provided with accommodation.[77]

A number of regulations aimed at safeguarding the health and safety of people at work were also introduced during Attlee's time in office. Regulations were issued in February 1946 applying to factories involved with "manufacturing briquettes or blocks of fuel consisting of coal, coal dust, coke or slurry with pitch as a binding .substance," and which concerned "dust and ventilation, washing facilities and clothing accommodation, medical supervision and examination, skin and eye protection and messrooms."[78] The Coal Mines (Ventilation) General Regulations dated 17 May 1947 “implement recommendations of the Royal Commission on Safety in Coal Mines regarding two main topics: methods of checking periodically the general standard of ventilation and methods of minimising leakage of air. Provisions are laid down respecting determinations of firedamp content and methods by which these determinations are to be made.” [79] The Radioactive Substances Act, dated 30 June 1948, “ which regulates the importation, manufacture, sale, storage and use of radioactive substances, includes provisions empowering the appropriate Minister to issue regulations for the prevention of injuries to health caused by ionising radiations and for securing the safe disposal of radioactive waste products.”[80] The Dry Cleaning Special Regulations, 1949 dated 29 November 1949 sought “to prohibit the use of liquids with a flash point below 32° C. (90° F.) from being used for dry cleaning otherwise than by spotting.”[81] The Blasting (Castings and Other Articles) Special Regulations, 1949, Dated 29 November 1949, “prohibit sandblasting and deal with the blasting enclosure, the cleaning of used abrasive, ventilation plant, inspection, examination and maintenance of equipment, personal protective equipment and clothing, the cleaning of blasting equipment, the employment of young persons, and the reporting of defects in the equipment. Sandblasting is prohibited in Section 5, which reads: "No sand or other substance containing free silica shall be introduced as an abrasive into any blasting apparatus." The Chief Inspector is empowered to grant exemptions from the regulations.”[82] UK: The matters dealt with by the Jute (Safety, Health and Welfare) Regulations dated 21 July 1948 “include the lifting and carrying of loads by women and young persons, ventilation, temperature and humidity, welfare, construction and use of machinery and sale and hire of machinery.” [83]

The Magnesium (Grinding of Castings and Other Articles) (Special Regulations) Order of December 1946 contained special measures "respecting the maintenance of plant and apparatus; precautions against causing sparks; the interception and removal of dust; automatic operation of appliances; protective clothing; and prohibition of smoking, open lights and fires."[84] For those workers engaged in luminising processes, the Factories (Luminising) Special Regulations (1947) prohibited the employment of those under the age of 18 and ordered "an initial medical examination to be carried out before the seventh day of employment; subsequent examinations are to be carried out once a month."Under the terms of the Blasting (Castings and Other Articles) Special Regulations (1949) "no sand or other substance containing free silica is to be employed in any blasting process," while the Foundries (Parting Materials) Special Regulations (1950) prohibited the use of certain parting powders "which give rise to a substantial risk of silicosis."[85]

The Building (Safety, Health & Welfare) Regulations of 1948 required that measures should be taken to minimise exposure to potentially harmful dust or fumes,[86] while the Pottery (Health) Special Regulations (1947) prohibited the use "except in the manufacture of glazed tiles" of all "but leadless or low solubility glazes and prescribe certain processes in which ground or powdered flint or quartz are not to be employed."[85] The Pottery (Health and Welfare) Special Regulations of 1950 made provision for the health and safety of workers employed in factories "in which there is carried on the manufacture or decoration of pottery or certain allied manufactures or processes."[87]


Various law reforms were also carried out by Attlee's government. The Criminal Justice Act of 1948 provided for new methods to deal with offenders, and abolished hard labour, penal servitude, prison divisions and whipping.[88] The Law Reform (Personal Injuries) Act 1948 enabled employees to sue their employers in cases where they experienced injury due to the negligence of a fellow employee.[89] The Legal Aid and Advice Act of 1949 introduced a state aided scheme to assist those who couldn't afford legal services.[90]

Post-war consensus

Most historians argue that the main domestic policies (except nationalisation of steel) reflected a broad bipartisan consensus. The post-war consensus is a historians' model of political agreement from 1945 to the late-1970s. In 1979 newly elected Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher rejected and reversed it.[91] The concept claims there was a widespread consensus that covered support for coherent package of policies that were developed in the 1930s, promised during the Second World War, and enacted under Attlee. The policies dealt with a mixed economy, Keynesianism, and a broad welfare state.[92] In recent years the validity of the interpretation has been debated by historians.

The historians' model of the post-war consensus was most fully developed by Paul Addison.[93] The basic argument is that in the 1930s, Liberal Party intellectuals led by John Maynard Keynes and William Beveridge developed a series of plans that became especially attractive as the wartime government promised a much better post-war Britain and saw the need to engage every sector of society. The coalition government during the war, headed by Churchill and Attlee, signed off on a series of white papers that promised Britain a much improved welfare state. After the war, the promises included the National Health Service, and expansion of education, housing, and a number of welfare programmes. It did not include the nationalisation of iron and steel, which was approved only by the Labour Party.

The model states that from 1945 until the arrival of Thatcher in 1979, there was a broad multi-partisan national consensus on social and economic policy, especially regarding the welfare state, nationalised health services, educational reform, a mixed economy, government regulation, Keynesian macroeconomic policies, and full employment. Apart from the question of nationalisation of some industries, these policies were broadly accepted by the three major parties, as well as by industry, the financial community and the labour movement. Until the 1980s, historians generally agreed on the existence and importance of the consensus. Some historians such as Ralph Miliband expressed disappointment that the consensus was a modest or even conservative package that blocked a fully socialized society.[94] Historian Angus Calder complained bitterly that the post-war reforms were an inadequate reward for the wartime sacrifices, and a cynical betrayal of the people's hope for a more just post-war society.[95] In recent years, there has been a historiographical debate on whether such a consensus ever existed.[96]


In the February 1950 general election the Labour Party narrowly maintained their majority by just 5 seats. This was insufficient to govern however, due to the Bevanite split causing tensions in the party. Another general election was called in 1951 to try and increase their majority. However, in the October 1951 general elections the Conservatives returned to power under Winston Churchill. Labour was to remain out of office for the next thirteen years, until 1964, when Harold Wilson became Prime Minister.





  • October 1950: Hugh Gaitskell succeeds Sir Stafford Cripps as Chancellor of the Exchequer.
  • January 1951: Aneurin Bevan succeeds George Isaacs as Minister of Labour and National service. Bevan's successor as Minister of Health is not in the cabinet. Hugh Dalton's post is renamed Minister of Local Government and Planning.
  • March 1951: Herbert Morrison succeeds Ernest Bevin as Foreign Secretary. Lord Addison succeeds Morrison as Lord President. Bevin succeeds Addison as Lord Privy Seal. James Chuter Ede succeeds Morrison as Leader of the House of Commons whilst remaining Home Secretary.
  • April 1951: Richard Stokes succeeds Ernest Bevin (deceased) as Lord Privy Seal. Alf Robens succeeds Aneurin Bevan (resigned) as Minister of Labour and National Service. Sir Hartley Shawcross succeeds Harold Wilson (resigned) as President of the Board of Trade.

List of ministers

Members of the Cabinet are in bold face.

Prime Minister
and First Lord of the Treasury
Clement Attlee26 July 1945 – 26 October 1951 
Lord High Chancellor of Great BritainThe Viscount Jowitt27 July 1945 
Lord President of the CouncilHerbert Morrison27 July 1945also Leader of the House of Commons
The Viscount Addison9 March 1951also Leader of the House of Lords
Lord Keeper of the Privy SealArthur Greenwood27 July 1945 
The Lord Inman17 April 1947 
The Viscount Addison7 October 1947also Leader of the House of Lords
Ernest Bevin9 March 1951 
Richard Stokes26 April 1951Also Minister of Materials from 6 July 1951
Chancellor of the ExchequerHugh Dalton27 July 1945 
Sir Stafford Cripps13 November 1947 
Hugh Gaitskell19 October 1950 
Minister of Economic AffairsSir Stafford Cripps29 September 1947New office. Combined with Chancellor of the Exchequer November 1947
Hugh Gaitskell28 February 1950 – 19 October 1950 
Parliamentary Secretary to the TreasuryWilliam Whiteley3 August 1945 
Financial Secretary to the TreasuryGlenvil Hall4 August 1945 
Douglas Jay2 March 1950 
Economic Secretary to the TreasuryDouglas Jay5 December 1947Office vacant 2 March 1950
John Edwards19 October 1950 
Lords of the TreasuryRobert John Taylor4 August 1945 – 26 October 1951 
Joseph Henderson4 August 1945 – 1 January 1950 
Michael Stewart10 August 1945 – 30 March 1946 
Arthur Blenkinsop10 August 1945 – 10 May 1946 
Frank Collindridge10 August 1945 – 9 December 1946 
Charles Simmons30 March 1946 – 1 February 1949 
William Hannan10 May 1946 – 26 October 1951 
Julian Snow9 December 1946 – 3 March 1950 
Richard Adams1 February 1949 – 23 April 1950 
William Wilkins1 January 1950 – 26 October 1951 
Herbert Bowden3 March 1950 – 26 October 1951 
Charles Royle23 April 1950 – 26 October 1951 
Secretary of State for Foreign AffairsErnest Bevin27 July 1945 
Herbert Morrison9 March 1951 
Minister of State for Foreign AffairsPhilip Noel-Baker3 August 1945 
Hector McNeil4 October 1946 
Kenneth Younger28 February 1950 
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign AffairsHector McNeil4 August 1945 – 4 October 1946 
Christopher Mayhew4 October 1946 – 2 March 1950 
The Lord Henderson7 June 1948 – 26 October 1951 
Ernest Davies2 March 1950 – 26 October 1951 
Secretary of State for the Home DepartmentJames Chuter Ede3 August 1945also Leader of the House of Commons 1951
Under-Secretary of State for the Home DepartmentGeorge Oliver4 August 1945 
Kenneth Younger7 October 1947 
Geoffrey de Freitas2 March 1950 
First Lord of the AdmiraltyA. V. Alexander3 August 1945 
George Hall4 October 1946Not in cabinet
The Lord Pakenham24 May 1951 
Parliamentary and Financial Secretary to the AdmiraltyJohn Dugdale4 August 1945 
James Callaghan2 March 1950 
Civil Lord of the AdmiraltyWalter James Edwards4 August 1945 
Minister of Agriculture and FisheriesTom Williams3 August 1945 
Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture and FisheriesThe Earl of Huntingdon4 August 1945 – 22 November 1950 
Percy Collick5 September 1945 – 7 October 1947 
George Brown7 October 1947 – 26 April 1951 
The Earl of Listowel22 November 1950 – 26 October 1951 
Arthur Champion26 April 1951 – 26 October 1951 
Secretary of State for AirThe Viscount Stansgate3 August 1945 
Philip Noel-Baker4 October 1946Not in Cabinet
Arthur Henderson7 October 1947 
Under-Secretary of State for AirJohn Strachey4 August 1945 
Geoffrey de Freitas27 May 1946 
Aidan Crawley2 March 1950 
Minister of Aircraft ProductionJohn Wilmot4 August 1945Office abolished 1 April 1946
Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Aircraft ProductionArthur Woodburn4 August 1945 
Minister of Civil AviationThe Lord Winster4 August 1945 
The Lord Nathan4 October 1946 
The Lord Pakenham31 May 1948Office in Cabinet until 28 February 1950
The Lord Ogmore1 June 1951 
Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil AviationIvor Thomas10 August 1945 
George Lindgren4 October 1946 
Frank Beswick2 March 1950 
Secretary of State for the ColoniesGeorge Hall3 August 1945 
Arthur Creech Jones4 October 1946 
James Griffiths28 February 1950 
Minister of State for the ColoniesThe Earl of Listowel4 January 1948 
John Dugdale28 February 1950 
Under-Secretary of State for the ColoniesArthur Creech Jones4 August 1945 
Ivor Thomas4 October 1946 
David Rees-Williams7 October 1947 
Thomas Fotheringham Cook2 March 1950 
Secretary of State for Commonwealth RelationsThe Viscount Addison7 July 1947also Leader of the House of Lords
Philip Noel-Baker7 October 1947 
Patrick Gordon Walker28 February 1950 
Minister of State for Commonwealth RelationsArthur Henderson14 August 1947 – 7 October 1947 
Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth RelationsArthur Bottomley7 July 1947 
Patrick Gordon Walker7 October 1947 
The Lord Holden2 March 1950 
David Rees-Williams4 July 1950Lord Ogmore from 5 July
The Earl of Lucan1 July 1951 
Minister of DefenceClement Attlee27 July 1945Also Prime Minister
A. V. Alexander20 December 1946 
Emanuel Shinwell28 February 1950 
Secretary of State for Dominion AffairsThe Viscount Addison3 August 1945also Leader of the House of Lords; became Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations 7 July 1947
Under-Secretary of State for Dominion AffairsJohn Parker4 August 1945 
Arthur Bottomley10 May 1946 
Minister of EducationEllen Wilkinson3 August 1945 
George Tomlinson10 February 1947 
Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of EducationArthur Jenkins4 August 1945 
David Hardman30 October 1945 
Minister of FoodSir Ben Smith3 August 1945 
John Strachey27 May 1946 
Maurice Webb28 February 1950 
Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of FoodEdith Summerskill4 August 1945 
Stanley Evans2 March 1950 
Fred Willey18 April 1950 
Minister of Fuel and PowerEmanuel Shinwell3 August 1945 
Hugh Gaitskell7 October 1947Office no longer in Cabinet
Philip Noel-Baker28 February 1950 
Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Fuel and PowerWilliam Foster4 August 1945 
Hugh Gaitskell10 May 1946 
Alfred Robens7 October 1947 
Harold Neal26 April 1951 
Minister of HealthAneurin Bevan3 August 1945 
Hilary Marquand17 January 1951Office not in Cabinet
Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of HealthCharles Key4 August 1945 
John Edwards12 February 1947 
Arthur Blenkinsop1 February 1949 
Secretary of State for India and BurmaThe Lord Pethick-Lawrence3 August 1945 
The Earl of Listowel17 April 1947Offices abolished 14 August 1947 (India) and 4 January 1948 (Burma)
Under-Secretary of State for India and BurmaArthur Henderson4 August 1945 – 14 August 1947 
Minister of InformationEdward Williams4 August 1945 
The Earl of Listowel26 February 1946Office abolished 31 March 1946
Minister of Labour and National ServiceGeorge Isaacs3 August 1945 
Aneurin Bevan18 January 1951 
Alfred Robens24 April 1951 
Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of LabourNess Edwards4 August 1945 
Fred Lee2 March 1950 
Chancellor of the Duchy of LancasterJohn Hynd4 August 1945 
The Lord Pakenham17 April 1947 
Hugh Dalton31 May 1948Office in Cabinet
The Viscount Alexander of Hillsborough28 February 1950 
Minister of National InsuranceJames Griffiths4 August 1945 
Edith Summerskill28 February 1950 
Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of National InsuranceGeorge Lindgren4 August 1945 
Tom Steele4 October 1946 
Bernard Taylor2 March 1950 
Paymaster Generaloffice vacant  
Arthur Greenwood9 July 1946 
Hilary Marquand5 March 1947 
The Viscount Addison2 July 1948also Leader of the House of Lords
The Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor1 April 1949 
Minister without PortfolioA. V. Alexander4 October 1946 – 20 December 1946 
Arthur Greenwood17 April 1947 – 29 September 1947 
Minister of PensionsWilfred Paling3 August 1945 
John Hynd17 April 1947 
George Buchanan7 October 1947 
Hilary Marquand2 July 1948 
George Isaacs17 January 1951 
Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of PensionsJennie Adamson4 August 1945 
Arthur Blenkinsop10 May 1946 
Charles Simmons1 February 1949 
Postmaster GeneralThe Earl of Listowel4 August 1945 
Wilfred Paling17 April 1947 
Ness Edwards28 February 1950 
Assistant Postmaster GeneralWilfrid Burke10 August 1945 
Charles Rider Hobson7 October 1947 
Secretary of State for ScotlandJoseph Westwood3 August 1945 
Arthur Woodburn7 October 1947 
Hector McNeil28 February 1950 
Under-Secretary of State for ScotlandGeorge Buchanan4 August 1945 – 7 October 1947 
Tom Fraser4 August 1945 – 26 October 1951 
John James Robertson7 October 1947 – 26 October 1951 
Margaret Herbison2 March 1950 – 26 October 1951 
Minister of SupplyJohn Wilmot3 August 1945 
George Strauss7 October 1947 
Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of SupplyWilliam Leonard4 August 1945 – 7 October 1947 
Arthur Woodburn1 April 1946 – 7 October 1947 
John Freeman7 October 1947 – 23 April 1951 
John Henry Jones7 October 1947 – 2 March 1950 
Michael Stewart2 May 1951 – 26 October 1951 
Minister of Town and Country PlanningLewis Silkin4 August 1945 
Hugh Dalton28 February 1950Became Minister of Local Government and Planning 31 January 1951
Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Town and Country PlanningFred Marshall10 August 1945 
Evelyn King7 October 1947 
George Lindgren2 March 1950 
President of the Board of TradeSir Stafford Cripps27 July 1945 
Harold Wilson29 September 1947 
Sir Hartley Shawcross24 April 1951 
Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of TradeEllis Smith4 August 1945 
John Belcher12 January 1946 
John Edwards1 February 1949 
Hervey Rhodes2 March 1950 
Secretary for Overseas TradeHilary Marquand4 August 1945 
Harold Wilson5 March 1947 
Arthur Bottomley7 October 1947 
Minister of TransportAlfred Barnes3 August 1945 
Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of TransportGeorge Strauss4 August 1945 
James Callaghan7 October 1947 
The Lord Lucas of Chilworth2 March 1950 
Secretary of State for WarJack Lawson3 August 1945 
Frederick Bellenger4 October 1946 
Emanuel Shinwell7 October 1947 
John Strachey28 February 1950 
Under-Secretary of State for WarThe Lord Nathan4 August 1945 
The Lord Pakenham4 October 1946 – 17 April 1947Office combined with Financial Secretary
Financial Secretary to the War OfficeFrederick Bellenger4 August 1945 
John Freeman4 October 1946Under-Secretary role incorporated 17 April 1947
Michael Stewart7 October 1947 
Woodrow Wyatt2 May 1951 
Minister of WorksGeorge Tomlinson4 August 1945 
Charles Key10 February 1947 
Richard Stokes28 February 1950 
George Brown26 April 1951 
Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of WorksHarold Wilson4 August 1945 
Evan Durbin5 March 1947 
The Lord Morrison26 September 1948 
Attorney GeneralSir Hartley Shawcross4 August 1945 
Sir Frank Soskice24 April 1951 
Solicitor GeneralSir Frank Soskice4 August 1945 
Sir Lynn Ungoed-Thomas24 April 1951 
Lord AdvocateGeorge Reid Thomson10 August 1945 
John Wheatley7 October 1947 
Solicitor General for ScotlandDaniel Patterson Blades10 September 1945 
John Wheatley19 March 1947 
Douglas Johnston24 October 1947 
Treasurer of the HouseholdGeorge Mathers4 August 1945 
Arthur Pearson30 March 1946 
Comptroller of the HouseholdArthur Pearson4 August 1945 
Michael Stewart30 March 1946 
Frank Collindridge9 December 1946 
Vice-Chamberlain of the HouseholdJulian Snow10 August 1945 
Michael Stewart9 December 1946 
Ernest Popplewell16 October 1947 
Captain of the Gentlemen-at-ArmsThe Lord Ammon4 August 1945 
The Lord Shepherd18 October 1949 
Captain of the Yeomen of the GuardThe Lord Walkden4 August 1945 
The Lord Shepherd6 July 1949 
The Lord Lucas of Chilworth18 October 1949 
The Earl of Lucan5 March 1950 
The Lord Archibald8 June 1951 
Lords in WaitingThe Lord Westwood10 September 1945 – 17 January 1947 
The Lord Pakenham14 October 1945 – 4 October 1946 
The Lord Henderson21 October 1945 – 7 June 1948 
The Lord Chorley11 October 1946 – 31 March 1950 
The Lord Morrison17 January 1947 – 26 September 1948 
The Lord Lucas of Chilworth9 July 1948 – 18 October 1949 
The Lord Shepherd14 October 1948 – 6 July 1949 
The Lord Kershaw6 July 1949 – 26 October 1951 
The Lord Darwen18 October 1949 – 26 December 1950 
The Lord Burden31 March 1950 – 26 October 1951 
The Lord Haden-Guest13 February 1951 – 26 October 1951 

Major legislation enacted during the Attlee governments

  • Law Reform (Contributory Negligence) Act 1945
  • Housing (Financial and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1946
  • Coal Industry Nationalisation Act 1946
  • Furnished Houses (Rent Control) Act 1946
  • National Health Service Act 1946
  • National Insurance Act 1946
  • National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Act 1946
  • New Towns Act 1946
  • Trade Disputes and Trade Unions Act 1946
  • Hill Farming Act 1946
  • Agriculture Act 1947
  • Pensions (Increase) Act 1947
  • Electricity Act 1947
  • Town and Country Planning Act 1947
  • Transport Act 1947
  • National Assistance Act 1948
  • Children Act 1948
  • Factories Act 1948
  • Education (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1948
  • Agricultural Holdings Act 1948
  • Employment and Training Act 1948
  • Nurseries and Child-Minders Regulation Act 1948
  • Law Reform (Personal Injuries) Act 1948
  • Local Government Act 1948
  • Representation of the People Act 1948
  • Housing Act 1949
  • Superannuation Act 1949
  • House of Commons (Redistribution of Seats) Act 1949
  • Landlord and Tenant (Rent Control) Act 1949
  • Lands Tribunal Act 1949
  • Legal Aid and Advice Act 1949
  • Adoption of Children Act 1949
  • Marriage Act 1949
  • National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949
  • Parliament Act 1949
  • Representation of the People Act 1949
  • Distribution of Industry Act 1950
  • Coal-Mining (Subsidence) Act 1950
  • Allotments Act 1950
  • Workmen's Compensation (Supplementation) Act 1951

See also

  • List of nationalizations by country#United Kingdom


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Further reading

  • Bew, John. Clement Attlee: The Man Who Made Modern Britain (2017), comprehensive scholarly biography.
  • Brady, Robert A. Crisis in Britain: Plans and Achievements of the Labour Government. (1950), 730pp, highly detailed coverage of each nationalization project Social Security, health programmes, and other domestic policies. excerpt
  • Butler, David and G. Butler, Twentieth Century British Political Facts 1900–2000.
  • Childs, David. Britain since 1945: A Political History (2012) excerpt and text search
  • French, David. Army, Empire, and Cold War: The British Army and Military Policy, 1945–1971 (Oxford University Press, 2012).
  • Hennessy, Peter. Never Again: Britain, 1945–1951 (1994).
  • Hennessey, Thomas. Britain's Korean War: Cold War diplomacy, strategy and security 1950–1953 (Oxford University Press, 2015).
  • Jefferys, Kevin (14 January 2014). The Attlee Governments 1945–1951. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-317-89894-8.
  • Kynaston, David. Austerity Britain, 1945–1951 (2008) excerpt and text search, social history
  • Morgan, Kenneth O. Labour in Power 1945–1951 (Oxford University Press, 1984)
  • Ovendale, R. ed. The foreign policy of the British Labour governments, 1945–1951 (1984).
  • Pelling, Henry. "The 1945 general election reconsidered". Historical Journal 23#2 (1980): 399–414. in JSTOR
  • Pelling, Henry. Labour Governments, 1945–1951 (1984) 313pp.
  • Reeves, Rachel, and Martin McIvor. "Clement Attlee and the foundations of the British welfare state". Renewal: a Journal of Labour Politics 22#3/4 (2014): 42+. online Archived 15 December 2018 at the Wayback Machine
  • Sked, Alan, and Chris Cook. Post-War Britain: A Political History (1979)
  • Tomlinson, Jim. Democratic Socialism and Economic Policy: The Attlee Years, 1945–1951 (2002) Excerpt and text search
  • Williamson, Adrian. "The Bullock Report on Industrial Democracy and the Post-War Consensus." Contemporary British History 30#1 (2016): 119–149.
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