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Austen Chamberlain

Sir Austen Chamberlain (1863-1937). British statesman and politician.

The son of Joseph Chamberlain and older brother of Neville Chamberlain, Austen was first elected to parliament in 1892. In 1903, he became Chancellor of the Exchequer, and following his father's retirement from politicals a few years later, he became the leader of the protectionist wing of the Conservative Party.

In 1911, Chamberlain was one of the leading candidates to succeed Arthur James Balfour as Conservative leader, but due to a deadlock between protectionists and free traders, Andrew Bonar Law was chosen as a compromise candidate. In 1915 Chamberlain returned to the cabinet in Asquith's coalition government, as Secretary of State for India.

He continued as India Secretary in Lloyd George's government after 1916, and later became a member of the War Cabinet[?] in 1918. In 1919, he was again at the Exchequer. In 1921, Bonar Law retired, and Chamberlain succeeded him both as Conservative leader and as Lord Privy Seal. Unfortunately for Chamberlain, in late 1922 the Conservative backbenchers rebelled against their leadership for remaining in the coalition with Lloyd George, and dumped Chamberlain as their leader, bringing Law back as Prime Minister. Thus, Chamberlain became the only modern leader of the Conservative Party not to become Prime Minister until William Hague. Chamberlain did, however, return to government in Stanley Baldwin's second government, serving in the important office of Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs from 1924 to 1929. As Foreign Secretary, Chamberlain negotiated the Locarno Pact[?] of 1925 with Gustav Stresemann of Germany and Aristide Briand of France, for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize, and secured Britain's accession to the Kellogg-Briand Pact outlawing war. Chamberlain and his wife were rather sympathetic to fascist Italy, and Chamberlain famously said that Benito Mussolini was a man with whom business could be done.

In 1931, Sir Austen returned briefly to government as First Lord of the Admiralty in Ramsay MacDonald's first coalition ministry, but soon retired from government, although he remained a member of parliament until his death.



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