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NI CentenNIal: 19th of February, 1946 - Rt. Hon. William Grant MP (6 April 1883 – 15 August 1949)

On this day in 1946 legislation was introduced in Parliament that culminated in the introduction of the National Insurance Act for Northern Ireland.

Health Minister William Grant who introduced NHS

The economic difficulties of the 1930s, created largely by the World Economic Depression, had sent a clear message to the Northern Ireland Government.


As the Second Word War raged, a new Ministry was created to address aspects of social improvement. Orangeman William Grant became Minister of Health and Local Government. One of the first pieces of legislation introduced was the National Insurance Act. This was part of the Northern Ireland Government’s commitment to match, step by step, social reforms in the rest of the United Kingdom.


William Grant had worked as a shipwright before becoming an MP and had been involved in the establishment of the Ulster Unionist Labour Association. He was elected to Stormont in 1929, becoming Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour in 1938 and then Minister of Public Security in 1941. He was Minister of Labour, 1943 – 1945 and Minister of Health and Local Government, 1944 – 1949.


The post war era was to see dramatic reform. Under his stewardship the new National Health Service was introduced into Northern Ireland in 1948. Private insurance groups like the Orange and Protestant Friendly Society were subsumed into the new National Insurance scheme. Such reform, coupled with the 1947 Education Act, laid the foundations for social improvement and equity.


William Grant was a member of Sinclair Seaman’s LOL No. 1198, RAPC No. 1198, RBP No. 1010 and the Belfast Branch of the Murray Club, the Apprentice Boys of Derry.


Image Courtesy of the UK Government/Northern Ireland Office.

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