The Liberal reforms 1906-1914


A government that is seen as an example of 'reforming' by introducing positive changes that really improve peoples' lives is the Liberal government in Britain of 1906-1914. Many historians label this period the beginning of the welfare state. 

Important reforms - summary

Some governments in history seem to have implemented changes that have particularly improved people's lives. For instance, Roosevelt's New Deal in America, or the Labour government in Britain after the First World War. The dynamism and positive achievements of these governments make them look much better than the governments that came before or after them.

A study of poverty in 1901 by Seebohm Rowntree found that in a society where those who didn't work didn't eat, there were three times in people's lives when they were especially vulnerable:

  • as a young child
  • when they were old
  • when they were sick or unemployed

After 1906, the Liberal government, with Lloyd George as Chancellor of the Exchequer, introduced reforms to help these three groups:


  • In 1906 local authorities were allowed to provide free school meals.
  • The 1908 Children and Young Persons Act introduced a set of regulations that became known as the Children's Charter. This imposed severe punishments for neglecting or treating children cruelly. It was made illegal to sell cigarettes to children or send them out begging. Separate juvenile courts were set up, which sent children convicted


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