Arthur James Balfour, 1st Earl of Balfour, KG, OM, PC, FRS, FBA, DL was a British Conservative statesman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1902 to 1905. As foreign secretary in the Lloyd George ministry, he issued the Balfour Declaration in 1917 on behalf of the cabinet.
Entering Parliament in 1874, Balfour achieved prominence as Chief Secretary for Ireland, in which position he suppressed agrarian unrest whilst taking measures against absentee landlords. He opposed Irish Home Rule, saying there could be no half-way house between Ireland remaining within the United Kingdom or becoming independent. From 1891 he led the Conservative Party in the House of Commons, serving under his uncle, Lord Salisbury, whose government won large majorities in 1895 and 1900. An esteemed debater, he was bored by the mundane tasks of party management.
In July 1902, he succeeded his uncle as prime minister. In domestic policy he passed the Land Purchase Act 1903, which bought out most of the Anglo-Irish land owners.