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Born the illegitimate son of a farm labourer and a housemaid in Lossiemouth, Scotland, Ramsay MacDonald (1866-1937) became Prime Minister of a minority Labour government in 1929. In a relatively strong parliamentary position, MacDonald was able to raise unemployment pay, pass a housing act focusing on slum clearances and also passed the Coal Mines Bill. This bill, published on 12 December 1929 proposed to reduce miners’ working hours from eight to seven and a half a day and to introduce a national board to protect wages. However, the bill contained no measures designed to rationalise the coal mining industry. Liberal party leader David Lloyd George (1863-1937) encouraged his party to partly vote for, partly against the bill while some Liberals abstained, in an attempt to goad MacDonald’s government into making concessions towards rationalisation.