Robert Horne, 1st Viscount Horne of Slamannan

Robert Horne, 1st Viscount Horne of Slamannan

Half Measures
"Sir Robert Horne, President of the Board of Trade, and Sir Eric Geddes, Minister of Transport (speaking together)". "That's a rummy get-up. But perhaps he couldn't afford anything better."----Cartoon from Punch magazine, 7 July 1920, referring to a bill introduced by Horne (left) concerned with state control of mining, which was similar to an anticipated bill from Geddes (right) concerned with the railways
Robert Stevenson Horne, 1st Viscount Horne of Slamannan, GBE, PC, KC (28 February 1871–3 September 1940) was a businessman and Scottish Unionist politician and advocate.

Horne was born at Slamannan, Stirlingshire, the son of the village's Church of Scotland minister. He was educated at George Watson's College, Edinburgh, and the University of Glasgow. He then spent a year teaching philosophy at the University College of North Wales, before being called to the Scottish Bar in 1896. He became a successful advocate, specialising in commercial and shipping cases, and took silk in 1910. He also served as Examiner in Philosophy (1896–1900) and Lord Rector (1921–1924) at the University of Aberdeen.

Horne was a director of the Suez Canal Company, chairman of the Great Western Railway Company and director of several other companies and banks.

During the First World War, Horne became Director of Railways on the Western Front with the honorary rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the Royal Engineers. In 1917 he joined the Admiralty as Assistant Inspector-General of Transportation, becoming Director of Materials and Priority in 1918, and Director of Labour and Third Civil Lord later the same year.

Having unsuccessfully stood for Stirlingshire in both general elections of 1910, Horne was elected as Member of Parliament for Glasgow Hillhead in 1918.

He served as Minister of Labour, President of the Board of Trade and Chancellor of the Exchequer under Lloyd George after the First World War.

When the Lloyd George Coalition Government fell in 1922, Horne refused to join the new government of Andrew Bonar Law. Two years later Stanley Baldwin offered to make Horne Minister of Labour once more, but Horne declined, preferring to concentrate on work in the City. Although he remained a Member of Parliament until 1937, he never again held ministerial office.

Horne, a womanising bachelor, was famously referred to by Baldwin as a "Scots cad", a remark that has stuck.

He was knighted as Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) in 1918 for his war services, and raised to Knight Grand Cross (GBE) in the 1920 civilian war honours for his services as Minister of Labour. He was ennobled as Viscount Horne of Slamannan, of Slamannan in the County of Stirling, on 9 June 1937.


*Biography, "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography"

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