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Butler, Richard Austen (‘Rab’), Baron (1902–82)

Subject History

Place Europe » United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631209379.1999.x


British politician. Born in India, where his father was a member of the Indian Civil Service, he obtained first class honours in history and French at Cambridge University before he was elected as a Conservative MP in 1929. Appointed Under Secretary of State for India in 1932, he saw the India Act (1935), which gave autonomy to the Indian provinces, through the House of Commons. In 1938 he was Under Secretary at the Foreign Office and an arch-appeaser, strongly approving the Munich agreement. Soon after Winston churchill became Prime Minister he made Butler President of the Board of Education (1941–5), where he was responsible for the Education Act of 1944, which established the framework of state education for the next generation. The Act received much praise at the time, as it provided secondary education for all based on selection at 11 for grammar, secondary modern or technical schools. As there were few technical schools, the new system simply reinforced the existing class division in education: nearly all working-class children went to the secondary modern schools, the grammar schools being filled predominantly with middle-class pupils. Butler, however, allowed local education authorities to introduce comprehensive schools for all pupils: by 1964 there were 200 and by 1974 2,000, with 60 per cent of all pupils. When the conservative party was in opposition from 1945–51 ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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