Son of a shipping magnate, Walter Runciman entered parliament in 1899 as MP for Oldham, defeating Winston Churchill. Churchill got his revenge at the general election the following year, but Runciman returned to the House in 1902 as MP for Dewsbury. He rose through the Liberal ranks, entering Asquith’s cabinet in 1908 as President of the Board of Education, later serving as President of the Board of Agriculture and President of the Board of Trade. Runciman lost his seat in 1918 but returned in 1924 as MP for Swansea West. In 1929 he succeeded his wife, Hilda as MP for St Ives. Opposition to Lloyd George and a change in his attitude to free trade led Runciman to join Sir John Simon in the Liberal National Group. He served as President of the Board of Trade in the National Government until 1937, when he retired from the Cabinet and was elevated to the peerage as Viscount Runciman of Doxford. In the run up to the Munich Agreement Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain sent Runciman on a mission to Czechoslovakia to try and accommodate the demands of the Sudeten Germans. After his return, he briefly returned to the Cabinet as Lord President of the Council, resigning on the outbreak of World War Two.