Bevin, Ernest, 1881-1951

Bevin was a British Labour Party politician who served as Minister of Labor and National Service in CHURCHILL’s War cabinet. An Emergency Powers Act was passed in 1940 which gave Bevin dictatorial powers to help mobilize manpower. He suspended the 48-hour week and the right to strike. Workmen were forbidden to leave or change jobs without official approval. In 1941 he introduced a measure which conscripted into industry all men over thirty not serving in the armed forces and all women aged 20-23. By 1943 he had successfully completed his mobilization plan and thanks to his work only one hour per worker per year was lost in industrial stoppages. He began drafting plans for postwar demobilization. After the war Bevin became ATTLEE’s Foreign Secretary and attended the Potsdam and United Nations Conferences. His main concern was to decolonize British possessions and ‘leave behind for ever the idea of one country dominating another.’

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