Trade unionist and Labour cabinet minister, born at Finsbury on 28 May 1883 to a Cornish WM family, who were Chartists and trade unionists. He was educated (like W.E. Sangster) at Radnor Street WM School, London and joined the Boys' Brigade at the Leysian Mission. When unemployed he studied in his local l Iibrary and began attending Workers Educational Association classes. On marrying in 1905 he moved to Dalston and later to Leyton. His father was a printers' reader and his son became the General Secretary of the National Society of Operative Printers and Assistants in 1909, holding the post for forty years. As such he had a seat on the Trade Union Congress General Council and was its President in 1945. He was appointed in 1938 to the Royal Commission on Workmen's Compensation.
Becoming involved in local politics he was mayor of Southwark 1919 to 1921. He stood unsuccessfully for Gravesend in 1922, but held the seat from 1923 to 1924, serving as a parliamentary private secretary. He stood unsuccessfully for North Southwark in a by-election in 1927 but took the seat in 1929, lost it in 1931, and failed again in 1935. He was finally re-elected in 1945 and retained the seat until his retirement in 1959. He was Minister of Labour and National Service from 1945, in part being responsible for demobilisation, and Minister of Pensions in 1951.
Moving to East Molesey, Surrey, he became a Deputy Lieutenant and a Justice of the Peace. He died on 22 June 1979.