OCR British History 1900-1918 (SOURCE QUESTION)

  • Created by: jadepike1
  • Created on: 03-05-19 10:40

Britain in 1900

Problems facing Britain in 1900

  • Poverty - The British population trebled in the 19th Century with increasing urbanisation; harles Booth and Seebohm Rowntree found that 30% of the population were poor and 10% were living in poverty, and showed that some poverty was caused by factors beyond people's control, such as unemployment; The Boer War had shown a high percentage of young men were unfit for military service; poverty led to overcrowding, malnutrition and ill-health
  • Britain's Ecomony - Between 1870 and 1914, Britain's trade and industry appeared to be shrinking, unlike other countries. The decline was most evident in the staple industries, as the British industrial growth was only 2.3%
  • New industries - This decline in the staple industries caused the growth of new industries in areas such as; transport and communication, distributive trades, hotels and catering, financial services, health provision, education and public administration
  • Britain's role as an Empire - near the end of the 19th century, Britain had rapidly increased the size of its existing empire. The Conservatives had been associated with the development of this new phase of imperialism, but there was considerale dispute between and within parties as to whether Britain should continue to persue expansionist policies or whether the view that imperialism was both immoral and a threat to international peace should prevail
1 of 18

General Election - January 1906

Liberal Landslide Victory of 400 seats, Conservatives - 157 seats

Factors weakening conservatives before 1906

  • The Boer War - Britain's reputation suffered badly due to the concentration camps, war atrocities and its inability to defeat 60,000 boers/farmers. British public opinion was divided over the methods of barbarism used to finish off the war.
  • Balfour's 1902 Education Act - this raised the school leaving age to twelve; granted subsidies to church schools from local rates, and abolished the local elected school boards; and also passed the authority over schools to the county or borough councils. This act upset many Non-conformists who felt it gave preferential treatment to Church schools and led to the cry of "Rome on the rates"
  • The 1904 Liscencing Act - this regulated the sale of the consumption of liquor in order to protect children and prevent the adulteration of alcoholic drinks. However, this upset breweries and non-conformists, who felt it was outrageous to give the state money to breweries. Non-conformists instead chose to condemn the clauses of the Act which provided generous compensation to the brewers and the landlords who stood to lose their lecences under the new liquor regulations
2 of 18

General Election - January 1906

Factors weakening conservatives before 1906

  • Chinese Slavery - Balfour's government were critisied for their use of concentration camps and having permitted large numbers of Chinese labourers/slaves to be brought from Asia to work in appalling conditions for pitiful wages in the gold and diamond mines of Africa.
  • The Taff Vale Case - In June 1900, the employees of the Taff Vale Railway company in South Wales went on strike with full backing of their union, the ASRS (Associated Scoiety of Railway Servants). the company broke the strike by bringing in non-union labour and by taking the union to court for illegal picketing. The company then took the union to court for a second time, but this time to claim the damages for the financial losses caused by the strike.
  • Tariff Reform Campaign - this most significantly weakened the conservatives. in a misguided attempt to outmanoeuvre the Liberals on economic matters, the government adopted this as its official economic programme in 1903
3 of 18

General Election - January 1906 and the LRC

Factors Strenghtening the Liberals

The Lib-Lab Pact - Liberals formed an agreement with Labour's Ramsay Macdonald; Liberals would not oppose Labour candidates in 30 constituencies; LRC restricted candidates in other constituencies to prevent a split in the anti-Conservative vote

Why did the Liberals Agree to the pact?

  • Finacial reasons - had a fund of £150,000, by reducing the need to fight Labour as a rival party, therefore reducing costs
  • Both had broad agreements of free trade and social reform
  • Joint campaigns against the 1902 Education Act and the Chinese Slavery reinforced pact

LRC (Labour Representation Committee)

  • Spent years getting organised, establishing contituency branches and drawing up a manifesto
  • LRC put up 50 candidates in the 1906 election and won 29 seats
  • The pact worked well and led to the adoption of the Labour Party
4 of 18


Classic Liberalism

  • Laissez Faire attitudes
  • Self-help
  • Freedom to worship and publish
  • Low taxation

New Liberalism

  • Intervention by state
  • Some help from state safety nets
  • Freedom from evils, such as poverty and low wages
  • Higher Government spending
5 of 18

Liberal Social Reforms 1906-1911

  • 1906 Trade Disputes Act - Reversed the Taff Vale decision by protecting union funds from claims for damages arising from strikes.
  • 1906 Education Act - Empowered local education authorities (LEAs) to provide school meals for needy children. Yet, since the act was not compulsory, only a third of the LEAs were providing meals by 1911.
  • 1907 Education Act - Introduced compulsory medical examinations, children had to be medically examined at least three times a school year.
  • 1907-12 - A set of measures to improve the conditions in prisons. Created the probation service and ended imprisonment for debt.
  • 1908 Children's Act - Created special provisions for young offenders by setting up juvenile courts and remand homes.
  • 1908 Old Age Pensions Act - Granted 5s a week to people over 70 years of age who had incomes of less than £31.10s a year and who has not previously received any help from the Poor Law; the pension was non-contributory, it was funded etirely from government revenues.
  • 1909 The People's Budget - The standard rate of income tax to be raised from 9d to 1s3d in the pound on incomes up to £3000 a year; A new super tax of 6d in the pound an incomes over £5000 a year; Death duties to be paid on estates valued over £5000; A 20% levy on the unearned increase in land values; Increased taxation on the sale of alcohol, tobacco and motorcars.
6 of 18

Liberal Social Reforms 1906-1911

  • 1909 Trade Boards Act - laid down minimum wages in the notorious unhealthy, overcrowded industries, such as clothing workshops, where employers exploited cheap, often immigrant, labour.
  • 1909 Labour Exchanges Act - This provided easily accessible centres where employers could advertise jobs and workers could go to be advised on what positions were available. The aim was to take away the uncertainty nature of the job market.
  • 1909 Development Commission - Created to organise the funding of State welfare.
  • 1911 National Insurance Act - The act covered workers aged between 16 and 60 who earned less than £160 a ear against sickness and unemployment; It did not apply to all industries, but only to building, engineering and shipbuilding - covering 3 million workers; Sickness benefit of 10s for men and 7s6d for women, paid for a period of 26 weeks; A maternity grant of 3s; The scheme was to be funded by compulsory weekly contributions, 4d from the employer, 3d from the employee, and 2d from the state; Contributions were to be paid by buying adhesive stamps which were then affixed to a card.
  • 1911 Shops Acts - established the legal right of shop workers to a weekly half-day holiday.
  • 1911 Coal Mines Acts - Fixed length day underground, improved saftey.
7 of 18

First Constitutional Crisis

Why did Lloyd George want to implement the budget?

  • Needed £15 million for new social services and the contruction of warships
  • Opposition to labour (wanted working class vote)
  • Punish Conservatives for their opposition in the Lords

What was proposed?

  • The standard rate of income tax to be raised from 9d to 1s3d in the pound on incomes up to £3000 a year
  • A new super tax of 6d in the pound an incomes over £5000 a year
  • Death duties to be paid on estates valued over £5000
  • A 20% levy on the unearned increase in land values
  • Increased taxation on the sale of alcohol, tobacco and motorcars.

What happened?

  • 1909 Lords vetoed the budget (due to outrage particularly the land taxes)
  • Liberals had to call the 1910 General Election on issue "peers versus the people"
  • Liberals won 275 seats (conservatives 273) and with Irish support, Lords finally agreed
8 of 18

Pre-War 1911-1914

Constitutional Reforms 1911-1914

  • 1911 - Introduction of the payment for MPs (initially £400 a year). This allowed those without a private income to consider standing for parliament
  • 1911 - Parliament Act removed the power of the House of Lords to veto Acts passed by the House of Commons: Main terms of the Parliament Act: Delaying the power of the Lords to be restricted to two years; A Bill set up by the commons in three consecutive sessions to become law even though it might be rejected by the Lords; General elections to be held at least once in every five years instead of once in every seven
  • 1912 - Act granting home rule for Ireland
  • 1913 - Trade Union Act allowed union funds to be used for political purposes
  • 1914 - Act disestablishing the Welsh Church
9 of 18

The Issue of Women's Suffrage 1906-1914

The basic demands:

  • Suffragists - NUWSS (National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies) formed in 1897, Millicent Fawcett - opposed to violent methods of getting their message across
  • Suffragettes - WSPU (Women's Social and Political Union), Emmeline Pankhurst - used violent methods and were willing to break the law
  • Both believed it was unfair that they had to conform to laws and rules which they had no choice over and didn't have the chance to vote for

The most significant events were

The Cat and Mouse Act 1913:

  • The government wanted to deal with the problem of hunger striking suffragettes who had been sent to prison for their violent acts, etc. this would have made prisons and the government look bad if women were dying in the prisons because of the lack of food, however, would have still made it look bad if they were seen force feeding suffragettes to prevent them from dying.
10 of 18

The Issue of Women's Suffrage 1906-1914

  • The Cat and Mouse Act allowed for the early release of imprisoned suffregettes who were so weakened by their hunger striking that they were at risk of death. Once their health was restored, they were recalled back to prison again. This overcame the resistance of the imprisoned suffragettes who went on hunger strike without having to resort to forcefeeding
  • Emily Davidson provided an excuse for the government to sentence suffragettes to prison
  • She died after attempting to pin a WSPU badge on the King's horse at the Derby

The situation at the outbreak of war:

  • Women were not allowed to fight in war but volunteered as workers to take over from men who went to fight, for example industrial work, munition factories, farming, etc. 
  • This helped their arguement as people realised how helpful and respectable women had been during the war
11 of 18

Problems in Ireland 1910-1914

Home Rule

  • This was a movement in favour of repeal of the Act of union with Ireland and the establishment of a Parliament in Dublin responsible for domestic affairs
  • William Gladstone decided in favour of Home Rule in December 1885 and sought to carry a Home Rule Bill through the Commons in 1886 but was defeated by thirty votes, including nearly a hundred of his Liberals. His second Home rule Bill of 1893 passed the Commons but was rejected by the Lords, this angered many Liberals and influenced the limitation of the Lords' powers in 1911
  • Once the power of the lords had been limited by the 1911 Parliament Act, the liberals introduced a third Home Rule Bill in 1912. Home Rule raised great opposition in Protestant Ulster which did not wish to be dominated by Catholic Dublin
  • The Government of Ireland Act proposed seperate Parliaments for Northern and Southern Ireland. the Northern Ireland Parliamentopened in 1921 but the south wanted more than Home Rule and by Agreement in December 1912, the south gained domination status and finally independence in 1937.
12 of 18

Trade Unions and Problems of Industrial Unrest

Despite the gains made from the Trade Disputes Act in 1906, the years before the war were particularly troubling for trade unions. Many trade unionists began to doubt whether the existing political structure could ever be made to respond to working class needs because Labour MPs did not appear to bring any clear benefits to workers. The belief that the legal and parliamentary systems were fundamentally opposed to their interests, encouraged a number of unions to consider direct action:

  • 1888 - Matchgirls' Strike - first major victory for the power of trade unions
  • 1889 - Dockers' Strike - further victory for the growing trade unions
  • 1901 - Taff Vale Judgement - house of Lords ruling srictly, limiting union activity
  • 1906 - Trade Disputes Act - Taff Vale Judgement reversed in unions' favour
  • 1909 - Osborne Judgement - unions' political levy decared illegal
  • 1910-1914 - Strike wave begins. Railway workers, cotton workers, boilmakers and miners lead to the initial strikes
  • 1911 - Railaway Strike and Dock Strike - strikers killed by troops at Llanelli
  • 1912 - Miners' Strike - miners accept minimum wage
  • 1913 - Trade Union Act - reveral of the Osborne Judgement allows unions to use funds for political means
  • 1913 - Syndacalist Strike in Dublin - major strike lasting over 6 months
  • 1914 - Formation of Triple Alliance - National Union of Railwaymen, Transport Workers' Federation and the Miners' Federation - the three biggest unions, join together to plan further industrial action
13 of 18

Britain at War 1914-1918 - ATTITUDES TO WAR

  • Concerns over the British fleet and fear of German naval expression and military expansion
  • Expectations: The British and their allies thought the war would be over by Christmas and in their victory
  • It may have been seen as a chance to break away from dull routine of office or home work.
  • Army was made up of volunteers meaning they had very little military experience
  • Seen as an advernture that tested the culture of the middle and upper class education
  • Pals Battalions - men wanted to keep their comradeship in war so signed up as groups, societies or clubs
  • Seen as a chance for Britain to show their moral qualities which won them the Empire (oppose national efficiency)
  • Unity - National revival after a period of conflict as drawing society together
14 of 18

Political Attitudes to War

  • Liberals:
  • Able to support a war, but a total war with state intervention, conscription and economic control was difficult for some liberals to accept
  • had to decide whether to stick to their own priciples or sacrifice them for national interest
  • Some were suspicious of German militarism and disliked German constitution
  • Some admired Germany for being a modern state with an advanced system of social welfare
  • Significant amount of pacifists who opposed war on moral standards
  • Labour
  • The most divided opinions of war
  • pacifists and others who saw war capitalist conflict where working class were the victims. View from Marxism where war was used to prop up the decline of capitalism
  • still patriotic response especially from Trade Union leaders who argued ideologies took second place to national dangers
  • Conservatives
  • Most united in supporting the war, but still contained a significant minority of those who hated it
  • Concerned over impact of the war on the economy and financial affairs as Germany was Britain's biggest trading partner
15 of 18

The Impact of War on the Home Front

War & Government intervention:

  • 1914 – Defence of the realm act (DORA) passed through parliament, taking control over total aspect of labour & economy.
  • War couldn’t be fought without GOV intervention
  • Land use regulated with country agriculture committees ensure land not cultivated
  • Censorship of press, letters, telegrams.
  • Blackouts introduced as fear of air raids
  • Nationalized mines, railways so could set wages, conditions, employment & profit.
  • 1915 Lloyd George introduced British summertime to get as much out of day work as possible
  • Gov banned buying of rounds, watered down alcohol & banned all day drinking
  • 1915, the government rushed through acts allowing the life of parliament to survive until after 1918 as barely any men were in the country to vote.
  • Conscription introduced may 1916 after volunteers decreased in 1915
16 of 18

The Impact of War on the Home Front

  • War & Attitudes, Beliefs & Volunteer work:
  • Propaganda influenced attitudes ensuring ppl didn’t object to states new powers.
  • Volunteering for all war work & special calls for constables – 30,000 recruits done in Lon 1914
  • Change of political perception of women – women over 30 got vote in 1918
  • Women cut hair short, did men’s jobs & dressed practical (ending Elizabethan dress)
  • Women became decision makers at home
  • Women worked on more equal terms with men becoming more financially & personally independent
  • War & Economy & Labour:
  • 1914 DORA was passed allowing control of labour force, economic resources & armament factories - little done to increase output. Shell shortage crisis enabled LG to build munitions productions to required lvl
  • Vast Gov money pumped into every aspect of war production
  • 50 new munition factories
  • Total war meant entire economy resources of nation had to be mobalised – labour had to be controlled – output specific & on time. Achieving victory meant financial & economic life had to be planned.
  • Mining industry nationalised during war where controls on wages, employment, conditions, profit & prices
  • 1915 TU in return for wage guarantees & conditions promised no strikes as long as war lasted
17 of 18

The Impact of War on the Home Front

In what ways did the state's role in relation to adult men change during the war?

  • Negative:
  • Military Contription - 3 acts from 1916
  • Extension of Official Secrets Act and Defense of the Realm Act (Dora 1914)
  • Licensing Laws (1916)
  • Dilution of trade unions' rights for the war effort
  • Increased taxation - supertax up to 40%, income tax to 30%
  • State controls of employers' profits, supplies and working conditions. Free market regulated
  • State rationing from 1917. Rent controls introduced
  • State propaganda and censorship widespread and affected everyone
  • Foreigners could be interned and forein travel banned
  • Positive:
  • All adult men got the vote in 1918 - from 60% of men before the war to 100% after it
  • Poorest saw standard of living increase - full employment, rent controls, rationing and licensing laws prevented spending money on drink
  • Trade unions strengthened bargaining power during war by their co-operation. Membership doubled from 4 million to 8 million. Henderson (trade unionist) entered wartime Cabinet
18 of 18


No comments have yet been made

Similar History resources:

See all History resources »See all Modern Britain - 19th century onwards resources »