Cripps, Sir Stafford

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Cripps, Sir Stafford

Sir Stafford Cripps, 1889–1952, British statesman. A brilliant and successful patent and corporation lawyer, he joined the Labour party in 1929 and became solicitor general in 1930, being knighted the same year. He resigned on the formation (1931) of the National government but won a seat in Parliament. He became a leading spokesman of the left wing of the Labour party and in 1939 was expelled from the party for urging a united front with the Communists. Sir Winston Churchill appointed (1940) him ambassador to the Soviet Union and, on Cripps's return to England in 1942, made him lord privy seal and leader of the House of Commons. In the same year Cripps was sent to India with a self-government plan (which was rejected by India). Shortly thereafter he became minister of aircraft production. In 1945, Cripps was readmitted to the Labour party and appointed president of the Board of Trade in the new Labour government. He returned to India to negotiate independence in 1946, and the failure of his mission (because of the antagonism between Hindus and Muslims) is often seen as the point at which the partition of India became inevitable. In 1947, Cripps was appointed to the newly created office of minister of economic affairs and within the same year became, in addition, chancellor of the exchequer. Great Britain was in the throes of a severe economic crisis, which Cripps sought to counter with his policy of austerity. By continuing rationing and imposing strict economic controls, he was able to slow inflation while maintaining full employment and without cutting back the government's welfare programs. Despite a vigorous export drive, however, Britain's balance of payments situation remained serious, and in 1949, Cripps most reluctantly devalued the pound by 30%. He retired in 1950.

See study by R. Moore (1979).

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