The Liberals Political and Social Reforms. AQA British History.

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Liberals; 1906-1914
The Liberal Reforms ­ Points to Note
~ They were an impressive legislative achievement
~ The Liberals were seen to be responding to specifically identified social problems
~ For the first time the state was interfering in matters previously considered to be the duty and
responsibility of the individual the diet and health of children, the standard of living of the aged
poor, the levels of wages and hours of adult workers, unemployment.
~ The poor were no longer to be considered as inferior, but were accepted as unfortunate but equal
~ The roles of Asquith, Lloyd George and Churchill need to be noted.
Liberal Timeline
1905. December Balfour's Govt resigns.
1906. January A landslide Liberal victory.
The Workman's Compensation Act. The Trades Disputes Act. The School Meals Act.
Free Medical Inspections for School children.
1908. Asquith becomes Prime Minister. The Old Age Pensions Act.
1909. The Peoples' Budget rejected by the House of Lords. The Osbourne Judgement.
1910. Two General Elections in January and December. The Constitutional Crisis 191011.
Rise in militant union activity.
1911. The Parliament Act 1911. The National Insurance Act 1911. Suffragette and Trade Union
Balfour resigns and is replaced by Bonar Law.
1912. The Third Home Rule Bill. The Ulster Covenant. The Coalminers strike.
1913. The Trade Union Act. The Cat and Mouse Act. The Triple Alliance of Unions. (Miners,
Railway men and Transport Workers).
1914. Decline in union violence. Home Rule Act delayed. The Outbreak of World War 1.
1915. Asquith forms a National Government with the Conservatives and emergent Labour Party.
Liberal Social Reforms;why the Liberals had to introduce social reform after 1906 and the
impact of these
Causes of Reform
~ 1. Need ­ Fears over the continuation of British economic dominance, the need to have a
healthy working population (who could produce new workers), the need to populate the Empire,
Social Darwinism (ie. the British should be the fittest, healthiest group)
~ 2. The findings of Rowntree and Seebohm. Realisation that squalor, poverty, and disease
were not just the result of self indulgence BUT also down to other factors ie. unemployment, ill
health, and age.
~ 3. Sheer Need ­ Charles Booth had revealed some very frightening statistics. 30% of the
population of London lived in poverty. Of these 10% lived in primary poverty ­ ie. their earnings
were insufficient to maintain good health. This figure was matched across the country.The Boer
War revealed similarly depressing statistics. 40% of recruits to the army were rejected as
physically unfit. This figure rose to 60% in the industrial cities.
~ 4. New Liberalism ­ change in the Liberal Party led by Asquith, Lloyd George, and the need
to make the changes (ie. abandonment of Laissez Faire)
What They Did
~1906 Education (provision of Meals Act)
~190608 Legislation to help children with poorer families
~1907 Education Act
~1908 Children's Act, Old Age Pension's Act
~1909 People's Budget

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National Insurance Act
1906 Education (Provision of Meals Act)
~ The problem of undernourished children had been noted since the 1890s
~ The issue ­ hungry children were physically weak and could not benefit properly from
~ The result was actually a Private Member's Bill (introduced by a Labour MP) that was adopted
by the Liberals.
~ The Act allowed LEAs to provide free school meals to `needy' children.…read more

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This became known as the Lloyd George money.
Lloyd George became determined to tackle the unemployment problem BUT found support
lacking as the economic situation had worsened. Unemployment was rising
~ Initial response was to set up Labour Exchanges to make finding work easier.
~ The govt. began a programme to introduce unemployment and sickness benefit. This was well
along by 1909 BUT was delayed until the introduction of the National Insurance Act.
~ Payments were first made in 1912 (unemployment), and 1913 (health).…read more

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By the time the Acts took effect in 1912 most of the poorer families would have benefitted
from at least some part of the scheme.
Certainly a significant safety net had been set up. The scheme was designed to help families at
the times when poverty was most likely to strike.
Working families found they burden of supporting elderly relatives had been relieved.
By 1914 14 million free school meals were being provided.…read more

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Introduce land taxes
~ Set up a road building fund, and introduce licenses for motor vehicles
~ Introduce child allowances at £10 for children under 16 ­ eligible for families on less that £500
The People's Budget 1909
~This was a major, but necessary piece of legislation.
~The govt. had increased spending on defence and social legislation ­ therefore it became
clear that taxes had to be increased.…read more

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~ The election result was practically the same as previously in 1910 (272 Liberals, 272
Conservatives, 42 Labour, Unionists 84). Therefore Asquith would have to force the Bill through
Parliament. When in Aug 1911 Asquith threatened the mass creation of peers the bill was
passed.…read more


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