Attlee government, 1945-51

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  • Created on: 29-12-14 22:56
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  • Attlee government, 1945-51
    • End of wartime coalition
      • German army surrendered on 7th May 1945, on the 23rd the British coalition ended
      • Churchill formed a 'caretaker' Tory Cabinet until an election could be held
      • Voting decided to take place on 5th July 1945
      • There was much consensus between the two parties during the war but this was coming to an end
    • 1945 General Election
      • Why Labour won
        • Consistently ahead in opinion polls
        • Conservatives paid penalty for suffering and mistakes of the 1930s
          • Unemployment and fear of its return
        • British government's dealings with Hitler before the war and policy of appeasement now looked at with shame
          • Blamed on Conservatives
        • Appeared better organised than Conservatives
        • There was increased faith in the power of the state to produce a fairer society
          • Attlee claimed Labour was now the all-embracing national party, representing 'all the main streams which flow into the great river of our national life'
            • Conservatives seen as a 'class party' representing 'property and privilege'
        • Churchill's attempts to scare the electorate with Gestapo speech were unconvincing
        • There was a big difference between war leader Churchill and peacetime leader Churchill
        • Large amount of armed forces didn't want to live under the same conditions as they had before
        • Conservatives relied on Churchill for victory
      • Result of the election
        • 393 Labour MPs (154 in 1935) to 213 Conservative (432 in 1935)
    • The welfare state
      • Beveridge report, 1942
        • Talked about 'five giants' that needed to be conquered
          • Want
          • Disease
          • Ignorance
          • Squalor
          • Idleness
      • National Insurance Act, 1946
        • Paid for by contributions from workers and employers, not taxation
          • Minimum number of contributions had to be made before benefits could be drawn
        • School children, pensioners, married women and self-employed earning less than £104 a year weren't covered
        • Old-age pensions were introduced
      • National Assistance Act, 1948
        • The unemployed and those who didn't make contributions were covered
        • Personal means tests were applied by regional offices of the National Assistance Board
      • National Health Service Act, 1946
        • Bevan decided to nationalise all hospitals
          • 80% of the costs was to come from taxation, the rest from national insurance contributions
          • Plan was for 388 hospitals to be run by 14 regional hospital oards
          • He had problems with the British Medical Association (BMA)
            • Most doctors feared becoming state employees and losing money
            • Bevan compromised: doctors would receive a small salary topped up by fees depending on the amount of patients
            • He allowed private practice to continue
        • For the first time ever, everyone could access free healthcare
      • Housing and town planning
        • By 1945 there were 700,000 fewer houses than in 1939
        • Nye Bevan was responsible for housing (Minister of Health) but was 'only keeping half a Nye on it'
          • He was responsible for two Housing Acts
        • 157,000 prefabricated houses were constructed as temporary accomodation
          • However he didn't reach target of 300,000 houses a year
        • 750,000 homes had been provided by September 1948
        • Town and Country Planning Act, 1948
          • Agricultural land to be protected
          • Urban development to be carefully controlled
          • 14 new towns to be built
          • National Parks introduced
    • Education
      • Butler's Education Act, 1944
        • Implementation left to Labour
      • Ellen Wilkinson appointed Minister of Education
        • Hard to produce change - financial stingency
        • School leaving age raised to 15 in 1947
        • 928 new primary school buildings built by 1950 and there were 35,000 extra teachers from service personnel
        • Tripartite system of education introduced
          • Failed to produce technical schools - financial problems
          • 25% of children went to grammar schools, 75% to secondary moderns
            • Seen as socially divisive
          • Did provide opportunities for working class children and contributed to social mobility over next 30 years
    • Nationalisation
      • Made little change to workers within industries and usually left same managers
      • Coal industry and Cable and Wireless, January 1947
      • Iron and steel industry, 1951
        • Strongly resisted by Conservatives
    • Age of Austerity
      • USA suddenly ended Lend-Lease in August 1945
        • Without it Britain wouldn't be able to pay for food imports or defence commitments
          • Occupied Germany, Greece and the Middle East
        • Economist John Meynard Keynes was sent to America to negotiate a loan
          • In 1946 the US agreed to a fifty  year loan of $3.75 billion at 2% interest
            • Also within 1 year of the loan beginning the pound had to become freely convertible
      • British exports collapsed
        • Dalton introduced heavy taxation
          • Meant to restrain spending power in Britain and encourage firms to export
      • Extremely bad winter 1947
        • Conservatives coined the phrase 'shiver with Shinwell'
          • Manny Shinwell was Minister of Fuel and Power
        • Fuel shortages in December 1946
      • Ra\
  • Made considerable difference to all but the wealthiest members of British society
    • National Assistance Act, 1948
      • The unemployed and those who didn't make contributions were covered
      • Personal means tests were applied by regional offices of the National Assistance Board
    • National Insurance Act, 1946
      • Paid for by contributions from workers and employers, not taxation
        • Minimum number of contributions had to be made before benefits could be drawn
      • School children, pensioners, married women and self-employed earning less than £104 a year weren't covered
      • Old-age pensions were introduced
    • Built on existing welfare provisions, giving almost universal security from extreme poverty

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