New Liberalism: Brief Details of the Liberal Reforms 1906-1914

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Measures to help Children

  • By 1900 primary education was free and compulsory
  • 1902 Balfour's Education Act meant local authorities had power to help existing secondary schools 
  • Liberals introduced 'free place system': secondary schools reserved 25% for free of charge children
  • Children could be awarded scholarships from passing examination
  • Local education authorities given power to provide free school meals for needy children
  • It was developed from a Labour Bill
  • Immediate effects weren't great as it wasn't compulsory
  • 1914 less than half LEAs were providing meals
  • It was made compulsory in 1914, Government provided some funding
  • Compulsory medication inspections in schools
  • Child offenders tried in juvenile courts
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Free School Meals, 1906

  • Local Councils had power to provide free meals
  • By 1914 over 158,000 children were having the meals
  • In wasn't compulsory and in 1913 only half LEAs were providing free meals
  • It didn't share the burden as rich areas didn't have poor who needed the free meals
  • People still couldn't afford 3 square meals a day
  • In some areas it was mainly poor people who were still paying for the meals
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Medical Inspections, 1907

  • Compulsory medical checks for free
  • The checks were very cursory
  • Till 1912 parents had to pay for treatment so poor couldn't afford
  • 1914, 3/4 of LEAs provided medical checks, 2/3 had free medical treatment
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Children's Act, 1908

  • Also known as the Children's Charter
  • Act tried to ensure minimum standards of care and protection
  • Children were protected people
  • People were prosecuted if cruelty shown Poor Law authorities visited and supervised children suffering neglect
  • Children's homes were registered and inspected
  • Juvenile courts were set up for children committing crimes
  • Children under 14 went to Borstals not prisons
  • Cigarettes were not sold to under 16s
  • Children under 14 were not allowed in pubs
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Pensions Act, 1908

  • This act was promised in 1908 Budget
  • It was more expensive to run a workhouse than have an old age pension
  • Classed as the life belt to keep people out of the workhouse
  • Weekly pensions from Government funds
  • Labour wanted all Acts to be paid by the Government
  • Over 70s eligible for pension as long as had 'good character'
  • Not paid through the Poor Law
  • 1 million pensioners by 1915
  • One pensioner would receive 5s a week
  • If you were married, together you would receive 7s6d
  • Only the poorest got the full amount
  • It was brilliant for the time: 'God bless Mr Lloyd George
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Trade Boards, 1909

  • Set up fixed minimum wages and conditions
  • Initially 200,000 (mostly women) workers in 4 trades where hours were long with low wages
  • 1913 went to 6 trades and coal miners
  • It left out many low paid workers such as farmers
  • Too few expectations
  • No national minimum wage till 1999
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Labour Exchanges Act, 1909

  • Unemployed could look for a job
  • 2 million workers registered by 1914
  • 3,000 jobs were found daily in the 430 exchanges
  • For every 1 worker who found a job 3 workers didn't find a job
  • Jobs weren't being created so limited
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National Insurance Act: Health Insurance, 1911

  • If worker fell ill they could draw money from the scheme
  • All manual/ low paid workers had to join, 13 million total
  • Workers paid in 4d, Employers 3d and Government 2d
  • Person received10s for 13 weeks, then 5s for 13 weeks
  • It had maternity Grant too and disability benefit
  • Workers in the scheme could get free medical treatment
  • There was free TB treatments
  • It only covered £160pa workers that had to be 16-60 years old
  • 13 million out of 45 million were covered
  • It usually covered the contributor not the family
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Unemployment Insurance, 1912

  • Part of National Insurance Act
  • Prevented poverty for 2.25 million workers
  • Open to shipbuilding/ engineering with seasonal unemployment
  • Workers, employers and Government paid 2d a week
  • Worker paid 7s6d a week for 15 weeks
  • Most workers weren't covered
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Other Protective Legislation 1906-11

Workmen's Compensation Act, 1906

  • Compensated workers for work-based accidents and disease
  • It wasn't always easy to prove injuries due to work
  • Only covered workers earning less than £250pa

Merchant Shipping Act

  • Improved food and accommodation for merchant seamen
  • Only covered British ships and not easy to enforce
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Other Protective Legislation 1906-11

Shops Act, 1911

  • Provided weekly half-day holiday for shop workers
  • Employers could make up with longer hours on other days

Coal Mines Act, 1908 and 1911

  • Fixed length of working day to 8 hours with improved safety
  • Still had long hours and low pay
  • Didn't cover time taken to get to work
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