Section - the TUC's contribution to the war effort

Issue date
12 Mar 2001

During the First World War, the TUC participated in the administra­tion of government at a number of different levels. The Cabinet Minister who, from the earliest days, saw most clearly the desirability of such participa­tion was Lloyd George. In 1915, as Minister of Munitions, he accepted an invitation to address the Trades Union Congress in person, about the working of the Munitions Act. When, in December 1916, he succeeded Asquith as Prime Minister, he immediately gave Arthur Henderson a seat in the War Cabinet; created a Ministry of Labour, and made John Hodge, Secretary of the Steel Smelters, the Minister; and gave G. N. Barnes, of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers, the post of Minister of Pensions. He also quickly acceded to the TUC's long‑standing demands for public control of mines, shipping and food distribution. In fact, Lloyd George had always been con­vinced of the importance of TUC support of the Government's war effort and not least because of the man‑power problem.

At other levels of wartime administra­tion, trade union participation came to be extraordinarily wide‑spread. Mem­bers of the Parliamentary Committee and other trade union representatives served on many of the 2,000 or so advisory committees that were set up by Government departments to assist in the prosecution of the war effort.

This involvement of the Movement in the administration of government did not survive the end of the war. And it was to take another war to bring it fully back to life.

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