The new Conservative administration took office in November 1924, with Baldwin once again at its head, though in other respects it was a very different administration from that which lost to Labour in late 1923. By playing the protectionist card in 1923 Baldwin had 'detached its supporters' such as Austen Chamberlain from the Lloyd George Coalition, but by renouncing protectionism in 1924 he 'detached its opponents also' and had won Winston Churchill to the Conservative side. 1 Chamberlain was appointed Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, while Churchill became Chancellor of the Exchequer. The rifts in the Conservative Party were beginning to heal, though Baldwin had to spend a considerable amount of time and effort in ensuring that his team pulled together.
As far as foreign affairs was concerned, security took precedence over disarmament. Thus one of the first acts of the new government was to reverse MacDonald's decision over Singapore. The proposed base was supported as a defensive measure by both the First Lord of the Admiralty, W.C. Bridgeman, and the new Chancellor of the Exchequer; and although its cost had been underestimated, 2 the decision to proceed was taken by the Cabinet on 6 April 1925. 3 However, the First Lord and Chancellor were less in harmony over the question of the Naval Estimates which the Admiralty put forward in January 1925. Bridgeman admitted that the estimates represented a 'large increase over last year's figures', but pointed out that the programme envisaged had already been agreed at a meeting of the CID in November 1921, which was presided over by Churchill, and endorsed at a Cabinet Committee meeting in February 1922, also chaired by Churchill. 4 The decision reached by these committees was that
the number of British cruisers must be based not upon the number of Cruisers maintained by other Powers, but upon the length and