The Local Government Act of 1929 represented a fitting culmination of Neville Chamberlain’s reforming record at the Ministry of Health and he presciently anticipated that it would ‘prove to have been my magnum opus when my obituary notice is written’.1 Although in many respects its sheer scope gave it the appearance of a consolidation Act, the measure combined three central themes of Chamberlain’s long-term thinking about local government in Britain. Firstly, its long-awaited reform of the Poor Law completed his comprehensive review of local government services and provision. Under the Act, Chamberlain sought finally to ‘break up the Poor Law’ by subsuming it within a unified system of provision for all citizens under the direct democratic control of local councils. Secondly, the Act involved the fundamental restructuring of a system of local government finance largely untouched since the establishment of the county councils in 1888 and which required radical attention even without the parallel reform of the Poor Law because of its lack of coordination and the distorting effect it had upon the distribution of central government support. Worse still, its inequitable financial burdens fell most heavily upon those depressed areas and heavy industries least able to afford it, leaving manufacturers clamouring for relief from a growing burden of local taxation which represented a major cause of their own lack of competitiveness.2 The final aspect of continuity concerned the enlargement of local government units which Chamberlain had favoured since advocating the Birmingham Extension Bill in 1910.3 As Minister of Health, he became convinced of the benefits of poor relief and public health services administered by larger units able to spread the financial burden more evenly to ensure that richer areas assisted poorer ones. The Poor Law Unions which replaced the parish as the geographical unit for relief in 1834 were thus in their turn replaced by the county and country boroughs, while scheduled roads were also transferred from district to county councils.