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Richard Bell in the late 1900s

Richard Bell (1859 – 1 May 1930[1]) was one of the first two British Labour Members of Parliament, and the first English one, elected after the formation of the Labour Representation Committee in 1900.

Bell was born in Merthyr Tydfil and became a high-profile trade unionist, the general secretary of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants. He was elected for Derby, a two-member constituency, alongside a Liberal in the 1900 general election.[1] He sympathised with the Liberals on most issues, except those that directly affected his union. This meant that he was not very compatible with the other Labour MP, Keir Hardie, a committed socialist member of the Independent Labour Party.

Although its chairman in 1902–03,[2] by 1903 Bell was struggling to adhere to the rules of the LRC group in Parliament, which now had five members following a series of by-elections. By 1904 he was considered to have lapsed from the group and was associated with the Liberal Party.[3] He was re-elected at the 1906 general election.

His supporters in the Derby Trades Council became disillusioned with Bell and replaced him at the January 1910 general election with another trade unionist from the ASRS, Jimmy Thomas.[4] After leaving Parliament, Bell joined the Employment Exchange branch of the Board of Trade. He retired from that in 1920 but continued in local politics and served as a member of the Southgate Urban District Council 1922–29.[5]


  1. ^ a b "Hansard Record". Retrieved 2009-09-08.
  2. ^ "Labour Leaders". Retrieved 2009-09-08.
  3. ^ David Martin, “Ideology and Composition,” in The First Labour Party 1906-1914, ed. K.D. Brown (London: Croom Helm Ltd, 1985), 17
  4. ^ "Richard Bell: Derby's first labour MP". Retrieved 2009-09-08.
  5. ^ "Bell; Richard (1859-1930); Politician, trade union leader and civil servant". Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick. Retrieved 1 December 2015.

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Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Geoffrey Drage and
Henry Howe Bemrose
Member of Parliament for Derby
With: Sir Thomas Roe
Succeeded by
James Henry Thomas and
Sir Thomas Roe
Trade union offices
Preceded by
Edward Harford
General Secretary of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants
1897 – 1909
Succeeded by
J. E. Williams
Preceded by
W. Boyd Hornidge
President of the Trades Union Congress
Succeeded by
James Sexton
Party political offices
Preceded by
Allan Gee
Chair of the Labour Party
Succeeded by
John Hodge