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Michael Hicks-Beach

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The Rt Hon. The Earl St Aldwyn

Michael Edward Hicks Beach, 1st Earl St Aldwyn (23 October 1837 - 30 April 1916), known as Sir Michael Hicks Beach, Bt from 1854 to 1906 and as The Viscount St Aldwyn from 1906 to 1915, from was an English statesman.

Biography

The son of Sir Michael Hicks Beach, 8th Baronet, whom he succeeded in 1854, he was born in London in 1837, and educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford, where he graduated with a first class degree in the School of Law and Modern History. In 1864 he was returned to Parliament as a Conservative for East Gloucestershire. During 1868 he acted both as Parliamentary Secretary to the Poor Law Board and as Under-Secretary for the Home Office. In 1874 he was made Chief Secretary for Ireland, and was included in the Cabinet in 1877. From 1878 to 1880 he was Secretary of State for the Colonies. In 1885 he was elected for West Bristol, and became Chancellor of the Exchequer and Leader of the House of Commons. After Gladstone's brief Home Rule Ministry in 1886 Hicks Beach entered Lord Salisbury's next Cabinet again as Irish Secretary, making way for Lord Randolph Churchill as Leader of the House; but troubles with his eyesight compelled him to resign in 1887.

From 1888 to 1892 Sir Michael Hicks Beach returned to active work as President of the Board of Trade, and in 1895, Goschen being transferred to the Admiralty, he again became Chancellor of the Exchequer. In 1899 he lowered the fixed charge for the National Debt from twenty-five to twenty-three million, a reduction imperatively required, apart from other reasons, by the difficulties found in redeeming Consols at their then inflated price. When compelled to find means for financing the war in South Africa, he insisted on combining the raising of loans with the imposition of fresh taxation; and besides raising the income-tax each year, he introduced taxes on sugar and exported coal (1901), and in 1902 proposed the reimposition of the registration duty on corn and flour which had been abolished in 1869 by Lowe. The sale of his Netheravon estates in Wiltshire to the War Office in 1898 occasioned some acrid criticism concerning the valuation, for which, however, Sir Michael himself was not responsible.

On Lord Salisbury's retirement in 1902 Sir Michael Hicks Beach also left the government. He accepted the chairmanship of the Royal Commission on Ritualistic Practices in the Church, and he did valuable work as an arbitrator; and though when the fiscal controversy arose he became a member of the Free-food League, his parliamentary loyalty to Balfour did much to prevent the Unionist free-traders from precipitating a rupture. In 1906 he was raised to the peerage as Viscount St Aldwyn, of Coln St Aldwyn in the County of Gloucester, and in 1915 he was further created Viscount Quenington, of Quenington in the County of Gloucester, and Earl St Aldwyn, of Coln St Aldwyn in the County of Gloucester.


Preceded by:
Marquess of Hartington
Chief Secretary for Ireland
1874–1878
Succeeded by:
James Lowther
Preceded by:
The Earl of Carnarvon
Secretary of State for the Colonies
1878–1880
Succeeded by:
The Earl of Kimberley
Preceded by:
Hugh Childers
Chancellor of the Exchequer
1885–1886
Succeeded by:
Sir William Harcourt
Preceded by:
William Ewart Gladstone
Leader of the House of Commons
1885–1886
Succeeded by:
William Ewart Gladstone
Preceded by:
John Morley
Chief Secretary for Ireland
1886–1887
Succeeded by:
Arthur Balfour
Preceded by:
Minister without Portfolio
1887–1888
Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
The Lord Stanley of Preston
President of the Board of Trade
1888–1892
Succeeded by:
Anthony Mundella
Preceded by:
Sir William Harcourt
Chancellor of the Exchequer
1895–1902
Succeeded by:
Charles Thomson Ritchie
Preceded by:
William Wither Beach
Father of the House
1901–1906
Succeeded by:
George Henry Finch

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Preceded by:
New Creation
Earl St Aldwyn
Succeeded by:
Michael Hicks Beach

Template:End box

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