Papers of Dr Hastings Bertrand Lees-Smith MP

Scope and Content

The collection is comprised largely of correspondence and printed material and speeches but also contains press cuttings, articles written by Lees-Smith and some other miscellaneous items

Administrative / Biographical History

Hastings Bertrand Lees-Smith was born in India in 1878 and returned to England after the death of his father in 1880. He broke with family expectations of a military career and went to Oxford University in 1895, graduating in History in 1899. At Oxford he joined the Fabian Society and became involved in working class education at Ruskin College. He eventually became a lecturer in public administration at the London School of Economics in 1906, and in 1907 went to Bristol as Professor. He was twice elected as Liberal MP for Northampton in 1910. Despite becoming an early member of the Union of Democratic Control, he served in the army during the First World War until he was invalided out in 1917. After his defeat in the 1918 election, he joined the Labour Party. He continued to work sporadically at the LSE (where he became a Reader in Economics, and holder of a DSc Econ) and to produce scholarly tracts. He was elected Labour MP for Keighley in 1922, and retained the seat (except for 1923-24 and 1931-35) until his death. He was an expert on parliamentary procedure and the labour movement. He became Postmaster General in 1929, and then Minister of Education, with a seat in the Cabinet, briefly in 1931. On his return to the Commons in 1935 he became Labour's front bench spokesman on foreign affairs and, in May 1940, acting chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party. He died in 1941.


U DLS/1 - 17 Correspondence, 1919 - 1941

U DLS/18 - 32 Printed Material and Speeches, 1910 - 1954

U DLS/33 - 37 Press cuttings, circa 1909 - 1943

U DLS/38 - 40 Articles, 1931 - circa 1938

U DLS/41 - 48 Miscellaneous, 1953 - 1990

Access Information

Access will be granted to any accredited reader

Other Finding Aids

Entry in Modern political papers guide

Conditions Governing Use

Patrick Lees-Smith

Custodial History

Donated by Patrick H Lees-Smith, Hereford, through Dr Joyce Bellamy, Department of Economic and Social History, University of Hull, April 1990

Related Material

Archives of the Union of Democratic Control [U DDC]

Other repositories:

Correspondence with Sir BH Liddell Hart, King's College London: Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives


  • HB Lees-Smith, Second chambers in theory and practice (1923)
  • HB Lees-Smith ed., Encyclopaedia of the labour movement (1928) (3 vols.)
  • Entry by David Martin, in Dictionary of Labour Biography, vol. IX
  • Andrew Thorpe, ‘Smith, Hastings Bertrand Lees- (1878–1941)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, Oct 2006 [, accessed 20 Dec 2006]