February 10, 2015

Secretary of State for the Home Office

As Secretary of State for the Home Office, Churchill was a senior official in the Asquith Government. Only one predecessor in that office had been younger—Sir Robert Peel.

A transport workers strike in South Wales, called while Churchill was holidaying in Switzerland, nearly provoked the use of troops and London Police, but it was settled without violence. His support of the activities of a non-party Conciliation Committee on female suffrage was conditional on the support of other leaders and did not commit him to any specific legislation.

He assumed a traditional task of the Prime Minister in writing a nightly letter to the King on the affairs of the House. In two years, he would write 138 letters to his sovereigns, Edward VII and George V. The letters were factual but also replete with personal comments. For example, on the issue of precedents for the extraordinary use of the Royal Prerogative in creating Peers, he informed the King that Lord Hugh Cecil had cited the creation of 12 new Peers to destroy the Whig Majority in 1711. This was, Churchill wrote, “a singularly unsatisfactory example from the history of the past.”

King Edward, resentful that the Liberals were using him against the Lords, informed his secretary that he would be pleased if Asquith, Lloyd George and Churchill did not meet him on his return to England from Europe.

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