ï»¿Winston Churchill (1951-1955)
Mines and Quarries Act of 1954. Consolidated legislation dealing with the employment of young persons and women in mines and quarries, together with safety, health, and welfare.
Housing Repairs and Rent Act of 1955. Extended previous housing Acts, and set out details in defining housing units as "unfit for human habitation."
Built 300,000 new homes a year. Macmillan had accepted Churchill's challenge to meet the latter's ambitious public commitment to build 300,000 new homes a year, and achieved the target a year ahead of schedule.
Maintained a close relationship with the United States. Churchill attempted to maintain the â€˜Special ...view middle of the document...
To make matters worse Eden lied to the House of Commons about Britainâ€™s involvement with the French and Israelis.
Harold Macmillan (1957-1963)
Resolved tensions with the United States. He worked to narrow the post-Suez rift with the United States, where his wartime friendship with Eisenhower was key; the two had a productive conference in Bermuda as early as March 1957.
First western leader to hold talks with the Soviet Union. In February 1959 he held talks with Nikita Khrushchev which eased tensions in East-West relations over West Berlin and led to an agreement in principle to stop nuclear tests and to hold a further summit meeting of Allied and Soviet heads of government.
Decolonised with little or no problem. Macmillan felt that if the costs of holding onto a particular territory outweighed the benefits then it should be dispensed with. After securing a third term for the Conservatives in 1959 he appointed Iain Macleod as Colonial Secretary. Macleod greatly accelerated decolonisation and by the time he was moved to Conservative Party chairman and Leader of the Commons in 1961 he had made the decision to give independence to Nigeria, Tanganyika, Kenya, Nyasaland (as Malawi) and Northern Rhodesia (as Zambia).
Disagreed with his Cabinet over economic policy. Macmillan believed in One Nation Conservatism and prioritised full employment which contrasted with his mainly monetarist Treasury ministers who argued that any support of sterling required strict controls on money and hence an unavoidable rise in unemployment. Their advice was rejected and in January 1958 the three Treasury ministers Peter Thorneycroft, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Nigel Birch, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, and Enoch Powell, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, resigned.
Loss of popularity due to economic circumstances. Britain's balance of payments problems led to the imposition of a wage freeze in 1961 and, amongst other factors, this caused the government to lose popularity and a series of by-elections in March 1962.
Failed to join the EEC. Britainâ€™s 1961 application was rejected by De Gaulle in 1963 because of Macmillanâ€™s reluctance to let go of Commonwealth trade links (e.g. lamb from New Zealand).
Night of the Long Knives 1962. Fearing for his own position, Macmillan organised a major Cabinet change in July 1962, named 'the night of long knives' as a symbol of his alleged betrayal of the Conservative party, when eight junior Ministers were sacked. The Cabinet changes were widely seen as a sign of panic, and the young Liberal MP Jeremy Thorpe said of Macmillan's dismissals 'greater love hath no man than this, than to lay down his friends for his life'.
Profumo Affair 1963. Macmillanâ€™s reputation was badly damaged by this event which involved the War Secretary having a sexual relationship with a call girl who had also been romantically involved with a Soviet...