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Richard Austen Butler

Richard Austen Butler, familiarly known as Rab, (1902 - 1982) was a British politician. He was born in India and educated at Cambridge University. He was a member of parliament for the Conservative Party from 1929, when he won the seat of Saffron Walden. He served under six prime ministers with his first senior ministerial post as Minister of Education under Winston Churchill. While minister of education he was prominent in the introduction of free primary and secondary education for all, with the introduction of the Education Act of 1944. He has held several senior cabinet posts including Chancellor of the Exchequer (195155), Home Secretary (195762) and Foreign Secretary (1963-1964). He retired from Parliament in 1965, by which time he was the longest-serving member of the Commons and Father of the House and was awarded a life peerage the same year as Baron Butler of Saffron Walden.

Butler deputized as prime minister for Churchill during his illness in the early 1950s, but lost the contest to succeed Anthony Eden as party leader and prime minister to Harold Macmillan in 1957. Historians have attributed this both to his having been too closely associated with the faction favouring appeasement in the 1930s, and to his having delivered an imprudently loose budget earlier that year thereby damaging the reputation he had established for skilled economic management.

When Macmillan retired as party leader and prime minister in 1963, his actions were widely seen as having operated to block Butler's succession to these offices and occasioned lasting bitterness from Butler's supporters, though Butler himself accepted office in the new cabinet of Alec Douglas-Home.

After his retirement from political office he served as Master of Trinity College, Cambridge.

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