Beveridge Group

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The Beveridge Group is a centre-left group within the Liberal Democrat party in the UK. It was set up in 2001 by MPs Alistair Carmichael, Paul Holmes, John Barrett and John Pugh to promote debate within the party regarding public service provision.

The group was set up largely in response to a perceived rightwards drift in Liberal Democrat thinking, typified by the economic liberalism of Lib Dem economic spokesman Vince Cable and former Home Affairs spokesman Mark Oaten.

In its first article, the group questioned the claim in the Liberal Democrat policy paper Setting Business Free that the party should "start with a bias in favour of market solutions": "Should the party of Beveridge and Keynes approach issues with a prejudice in favour of the free market system? Should we enter every policy debate with an underlying belief that private is always better than public? I certainly do not think so. That was the approach which led the Conservatives to undertake the disastrous privatisation of British Rail in the mid 1990s." (Alistair Carmichael, 2003)

The role of the Beveridge Group has been brought into focus with the rise of Nick Clegg, another leading market liberal and Orange Book contributor, to the leadership of the party in 2007, and more so after his decision to lead the Liberal Democrats into a Coalition government with the Conservatives following the hung parliament result in the May 2010 general election. It has been noted[by whom?] that along with Clegg (deputy Prime Minister up to the 2015 elections) MPs who contributed to the Orange Book or are otherwise associated with the market liberal faction occupied many positions in the Coalition Cabinet during the Liberal Democrats time in office, including Vince Cable (Business Secretary), David Laws (briefly Chief Secretary to the Treasury) and Danny Alexander (Chief Secretary to the Treasury), with others such as Ed Davey and Steve Webb holding ministerial posts, while it has been speculated that the more socially liberal Beveridge Group members were under-represented in the Cabinet, perhaps signalling a 'takeover' of the Liberal Democrats by the so-called "Orange Bookers".[citation needed]

However, Beveridge Group members Norman Baker and Alistair Carmichael each held ministerial ranks in the government, as Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Transport and Chief Deputy Whip for the Liberal Democrats in the government respectively, with Mark Hunter assigned as an Assistant Whip. Furthermore, in 2010 Group members Simon Hughes and Tim Farron were elected Deputy Party Leader and Party President, respectively. Farron has since won the Liberal Democrat leadership election, beating his rival, Norman Lamb.

On 18 December 2013, Simon Hughes was appointed Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice.[citation needed]


As of May 2017, there was a membership of 30 current, or former, MPs:

Sitting MPs (2)

Former MPs (28)

See also[edit]