British history


Why did the Liberals win a victory in the general

Tariff Reform

  • The main reason for Liberal success was Tariff reform
  • It helped unite the party behind free trade and attracted some Conservatives, Winston Churchil.
  • The issue split the Conservatives into three groups

Tariff reform was controversial because:

  • many feared it would increase the cost of living
  • people thought Britains prosperity depended on free trade
  • textiles and coal feared a trade war would exculde them from overseas markets
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Why did the Liberals win a landslide victory in th

The Education Act 1902

Before tariff reform became an issue the liberals united to fight the Balfours Education bill due to the fact that they did not like government money being directed at Anglican-ran schools.

The Lib-Lab pact 1903

the pact divided the constituencies between the parties and prevent their fighting again eachother to split a vote. The pact helped many places swing seats away from the Conservatives

Chinese slave 1904

Forced to work in inhuman conditions in mines caused a public outcry which eroded support for Conservatives.

First past the post Exagerated their victory- votes compared to seats was not as much

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Why did the Liberals introduce social and welfare

The reforms

The five categories 

  •  sick and injured
  • unemployed
  • children
  • elderly
  • workers

The unemployed workmen Act 1905

The act established stress comittees to give grants to help provide work for the unemployed

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Why did the Liberals introduce social and welfare

The Workmans Compensation Act 1906

forced employers to pay compensation to workmen injured at work through accidents or related illness.

Education (provision of school meals) act 1906

to provide free school meals to poor children

The Trades Disputes Act 1906

Reversed the Taff Vale desicion on 1901 and stopped unions from being charged for loss of earnings by firms during a strike.

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Why did the Liberals introduce social and welfare

The Education (Medical inspection) Act 1907

Provided free compulsory medical inspection for school children in order o identify disease

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Why did the Liberals introduce social and welfare

The Childrens Act 1908

The act punished people for allowing children to beg, forbade the sale of alcohol to kids under 5 and tobacco to kids un 16.

It was followed by a system of grants in 1912 to pay for medical treatments for them.

Old Age Pensions Act 1908

Established a non-contributary pension scheme providing 5 shillings per week for people 70+

The Trades Boards Act 1908

Introduced an 8 and a half hour working day in the mines

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Why did the Liberals introduce social and welfare

The Labour Exchanges Act 1909

Set up a national network of job centres where the unemployed could find out what jobs were available.

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Why did the Liberals introduce social and welfare

The National Insurance Act Part 1 1911

A new health insurance system provided for a payment of 10 shillings a week for a person who was off work because of illness. Lasted for maximum of 26 weeks.

The National Insurance Act Part 2 1911

Provided unemployment insurance aimed at workers in industries with high levels of unemployment. The worker recieved 7 shillings a week. Lasted a maximum of 15 weeks.

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Reasons for the Liberal reforms

Research on poverty

Charles Booth's and Seebohm Rowntree's studies identified that a large body of people who were poor were so through no fault of their own.

The Royal Commission on the Poor Law 1906 -09

That in future, help for the poor should also be a matter for central government.

The Boer War 1899 -1902

It had been reported that 1/3 of the men volunteered had to be turned down due to poor health. If Britain was to have a strong army it needed a healthy one. It took 3 years for the army to beat supposedly farmers with pitch forks.

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Reasons for the Liberal reforms

National Efficiancy

Politicians feared that Britain was about to loose its position as the worlds leading industrial and commerical nation. Unemployment was seen as a waste of labour that stood in the way of the countries prosperity.

New Liberalism

There was a feeling that Gladstone's form of Liberalism with its minimal government intervention was out of date. Many believed that they should help the 'deserving poor'.

Pressure from outside Parliament

- Trade unionists wanted Taff Vale reversed

- The Miners federation wanted shorter working hous

- Children societies needed greater protection for children

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Why did a crisis develop over the House of Lords 1

Reasons for Liberal conflict with the House of Lords

Long term reasons

The H of L was dominated by Conservatives and when the Liberals were in power they had the power to reject (veto) the legislations such as the second Home Rule Bill in 1893. By 1905 and 09 they blocked an educational bill, a lisencing bill and a scottish land bill.

Short term

They rejected the 'Peoples budget' 1909 designed for naval building and old age pensions. the Lords objected the progressive taxation bills which included a super tax of 6d in the pound on incomes ocer £3000 per year, an increase on tax in death duties, tobacco, alcohol and property.

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The political Crisis 1910 - 11

The January 1910 general election

Following the rejection of the peoples budget Aquith called for a general election. The number of votes for the Liberals increased, but the number of seats fell from 400 to 272. Nevertheless they were supported by 82 Irish Home Rule MP's and 42 Labour MP's. The budget was reintroduced and finally accepted by the h of l in April 1910.

The death of king Edward in May 1910 delayed the opportunity of finding a political solution to the problem. The new King George V was politically inexperienced.

The December 1910 election

The main issue here was reform of the House of Lords. The Libs won 272 and Torys 272 and the balance of power was held by the Irish Home Rule Party wih 84 seats. The King agreed to create enough peers to ensure reform of H of L.

The Parliament Act 1911 - became law when large numbers of torys refused to vote.

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The political Crisis 1910 - 11

The Parliament Act 1911

Ended the H of L's right to reject a bill. They could hold a bill for up to 2 years if it had passed the commons on three successive occasions. The lords lost all rights to discuss money bills

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How serious were the crises facing the Liberal gov

In addition to trouble with the House of Lords the Liberals also faced three other crises in domestic affairs:

  • The Ulster Crisis 1912 - 14
  • The Great Labour Unrest 1910 - 14
  • The Suffragette movement

The Ulster Crisis was the most serious of these and created problems with law and order for the government.

Labour unrest caused considerable economic disruption but was not a threat to constitutional government.

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Causes of the Ulster Crisis 1912 - 1914

Long term causes

Long standing opposition to Home Rule in Ireland from Protestants who feared domination by the Catholic majority in a Home Rule Parliament.

Immediate causes

The Irish Home Rule Party held the balance of power after the Parliament act in 1911 and in return for support of he act the Liberals introduced the a Home Rule Bill.

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Home Rule opposition

The Solemn League and Covenant 1912

A petition was signed by half a million Ulster Protestants and presented to parliament in london. It had no effect on the Liberals.

The Ulster Volunteer Force UVF 1912

A military force of 100,000 men was formed in Ulster to oppose Home Rule by violence if necessary. Asquith took no action incase it made matters worse. In 1914 the UVF recieved arms from Germany and became a major military threat to the government.

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Liberal Government Action

Asquith "Wait and See"

He decided to ignore events in Ulster and allow the Home Rule Bill to become law by September 1914. He only acted when he was forced to by the course of events.

UVF militancy and army acquiescence

The army was finally given orders to occupy Ulster in case of violence and the Curragh incident of 1914 occurred when British Army officers with links to Ulster were given the option of not taking part in the plan. A large number of officers accepted it.

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Liberal Government Action in Ulster

Churchil deploys the navy

Winston Churchill moved units of the Royal Navy force to Lamlash Bay in Scotland as a government threat to the UVF.

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The seriousness of the Ulster Crisis

The crisis came to a temporary halt with the outbreak of the first World War in August 1914 when the UVF joined the British Army as the 36th Ulster Division.

  • The Lib government faced a well armed force of 100,000 UVF protestants who were prepared to resist Home Rule by violence if necessary.
  • from 1913 an opposing force of 200,000 catholic Irish Volunteers prepared to defend Home Rule with violence.
  • Asquiths 'wait and see' policy had allowed the crisis to become a serious threat to the government.
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The Great Labour Unrest 1910 - 14

  • There was great labour unrest from mainly miners, railwaymen and dockers in 1910 - 14.
  • Many of them supported syndicalism
  • Tom Mann played an important role in some of the strikes.
  • They beleived that industrial action could bring down the government and produce a socialist society. Next Step = a syndicalist pamphlet 1911.
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The Great Labour Unrest 1910 - 14

The Triple Industrial Alliance

  • 1914
  • The miners, railway men and transport workers formed the Triple Industrial Alliance with a declaration that if any one of the three unions went on strike, the others would follow.
  • Unions began to merge to form large groupings such as the National Union of Railway men.
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The Great Labour Unrest 1910 - 14

Reasons for the strikes

  • a rise in the cost of living fuelled demand for wage rises
  • disillusionment with national union officials and a growing gap between local and national control, with many local officials calling strikes.
  • disillusionment with a Labour Party which had failed to defend trade union interests effectively in Parliament.
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The Suffragettes


  • recieved considerable amount of publicity for attacking politicians including the Prime Minister
  • setting fire to pillar boxes
  • chaining themselves to railings in public places
  • defacing paintings in the National Gallery
  • 1913 Emily Davison committed suicide by throwing herself in front under the King's horse in the Epsom Derby.


  • limited.
  • Gov. introduced the Cat and Mouse Act 1913 to defure hunger strikes in prison.
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Why had independent Labour political groups formed

There was an emerging critque of capitalism- in the 1890's the industrial working class faced poor housing and conditions and looked for trade unions support

Meanwhile many political and economic writers had started to criticise the social and economic stem that had brought industrialisation.

Capitalism was criticised for creating a great imbalance in economic wealth and many people such as Karl Marx wanted Capitalism replaced with Socialism.

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Why had independent Labour political groups formed

Main Labour groups:

  • The Fabian Society - they believed that a shift towards socialism would be done through a peaceful and gradual process.
  • The Social Democratic Federation  SDF - founded by H. Hyndman a wealthy Marxist who supported a complete social and economic transformation of society.
  • the Independent Labour Party ILP - was set up in Bradford 1893 and was a mixture of Fabians, Trade Unionists and members of the SDF.
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Why was the Labour Rep Committee created in 1900?

And how did it develop?

  • the LRC was formed in 1900 as a result of trade union action promote by a number of other factors
  • Liberal decline - the party split in two after the 1st Home Rule Bill.
  • Employers' hostility - in the 1890's trade unions faced major attack from employers who were supported by court judgemetns that underlined the lack of working- class political influence.
  • The Trades Union Congress 1899 - set up the LRC from all groups to have representation in parliament and in 1900 gen election returned 2 MP's
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Developments of the LRC

Taff Vale 1901

  • the LRC had a boost in membership with the Taff Vale desicion when court made trade unions liable to compensate employers for any losses incured during a strike. After this 168 trade unions agreed to finance the LRC to get the court ruling amended.

The Lib lab pact

  • Lib Herbert Gladstone and LRC's Ramsay MacDonald made an agreement to prevent conflict between liberal and labour candidates and to split constituencies between them against the conservatives.

In the Jan General elcetion the LRC won 5.9% of the vote and 29 seats. They then reformed as the Labour party.

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How effective was the Labour party in Parliament 1

Between 1906 and 14 they fought 3 general elections while its share of the vote rose from 5.9% to 7.1% in Jan 1910 nd its seats rose more sharpl from 29 in 06 to 42 in 1910.

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How effective was the Labour party in Parliament 1

Main events

Trades Disputes Act 1906

Removed trade unions from any liability for damages caused by a strike.

New Liberalism

Labour was affected by the growth of New Liberalism which copied views of Labour policy by supporting the idea of government intervention to help the poor. Led to the introduction of old pensions act and national insurance

The People's Budget 

Progressive taxation was established thus atracting working class support back to the Liberals and as British Politics was becoming class based there seemed little room for the Labour Party. 

Affiliation with the miners and payment for MP's

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Trade Union Amendmet Act 1913

Trade Union Amendment act 1913

Reversed the 1909 Osborne Judgment and allowed trade unions to raise political levy from their members in support of the Labour Party.

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Impact of WW1 on the rise of the Labour party?

The split in the Liberal Party

The split in the Liberal party with Lloyd George and Assquith further widened after the Maurice debate in 1918 where General Maurice accused the government of stinting on supplies to meet the German spring offensive.

Labour leaves the coalition government

Auther Henderson resigned when he refused permission to atten a  socialist conference in neutral Sweden for ways to end the war. He then spent the time reorganising the Party with Sydney Webb - broadened membership by allowing individuals to join the party without belonging to an affiliated trade union.

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How effective were the 2 Labour governments of 192

- The first two labour governments were minority governments where labour depended on the support of the Liberals.

- won more suuport by from the new electorate created by the Reform Act in 1918

- by 1924 the Labour party had gained 31% of the vote and became the 2nd largest party in Britain.

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