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Election to Parliament and early career

Jack Lawson (5th from left) and Ellen Wilkinson (2nd from left) with Durham county MPs and George Lansbury (far left)

Parliamentary Archives, PIC/P/328

In 1919 Lawson was elected to sit in the House of Commons as MP for Chester-le-Street. He would hold the seat continuously, rarely polling less than seventy per cent of the popular vote, until he retired in 1949. During his 30 years as MP for Chester-Le-Street, Lawson was fiercely loyal to his constituents, frequently demanding government action on many issues including poverty and unemployment, and pensions and benefits.

Government roles

In 1924 Lawson became MacDonald's parliamentary private secretary along with Clement Attlee, and also served as financial secretary to the War Office. In 1929–31 he was parliamentary secretary at the Ministry of Labour under Margaret Bondfield.

During the 1931 election, Lawson became one of only two Durham Labour MPs to keep their seats, indicating wider dissatisfaction with Labour's policies at the time. At this point in time, Lawson's future seemed unsteady. However, his career slowly recovered and he joined the opposition front bench in 1937. On the outbreak of the Second World War he became deputy commissioner for civil defence in the northern region. This role would be challenging, especially when the North East region suffered heavy bombing raids, some of which affected Lawson's own family.

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The De Montfort Project is an outreach projectrun by the Parliamentary Archiveswhichexplores the life and impact of local MPs and Peers on both their local area and at Parliament.

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