- Slides: 26
Liberal Reforms A Success? Higher History
Example Essay Questions ¡ ¡ To what extent did the Liberal Reforms 1906 -1914 improve the lives of the British people? Assess the impact of the Liberal Reforms 1906 -1914 on the lives of the British people.
Theme of Essay ¡ ¡ ¡ The Liberal Reforms were at best piecemeal – covered a wide range of poverty and were limited in who they helped. However, they were the widest range of reforms by any government at that time and show a change of emphasis away from laissez-faire and towards governments looking after the welfare of their people – it is this change in attitude by which their success must be judged, they began welfare reform. Therefore, key points: 1. Very limited reforms. 2. But first time widespread welfare reforms were regarded as people’s rights.
Content of Essay ¡ In your essay you must show: 1. An understanding of the problems Britain faced. 2. What the Liberals did – details of legislation passed. 3. Strengths and limitations of reforms.
5 Big Problems facing Britain 1906 ¡ ¡ ¡ Britain faced many problems caused by poverty at the beginning of the 20 th Century, for example: Squalor – Each major town and city e. g. Glasgow, East End London had very poor and overcrowded housing that were filled with disease. Disease – Major epidemics of TB, Scarlet Fever, Polio, Rickets etc swept through the slums, most were caused by poverty.
5 Big Problems facing Britain 1906 ¡ ¡ Want – Poverty was a major problem caused by a society where the working class faced low pay, long hours and lived on the margins( the poverty line) with no room for sickness, death, unemployment etc. Idleness - One of the main causes of poverty were caused by the lack of regular well paid work. Most jobs were seasonal or subject to periods of unemployment, as well as illness etc. If you did not work your family did not eat.
5 Big Problems facing Britain 1906 ¡ Ignorance – There was compulsory education up to 13 but most schools were crowded and of poor quality. Education for girls was much worse than boys ¡ Please note – little or nothing was done by the Liberal Government to help the problems of squalor, disease and ignorance.
Reforms ¡ We will study the Liberal Reforms under three headings: 1. Young 2. Old 3. Workers
YOUNG - Children ¡ - 1906 Education Act (School Meals) Provided meals for needy children. Compulsory education had shown up the evils of poverty, as children from the slums were too hungry to learn.
Good points By 1914, 14 million school meals were being issued per week. ¡ This ensured that needy pupils were receiving one nutritious meal per day. ¡ Helped to tackle the evil of ‘WANT’, by helping needy children. ¡ Helped (slightly) to tackle the problem of ‘IGNORANCE’, as allowed children to learn without the distraction of hunger. ¡
Bad points School meals were not made compulsory until 1914. ¡ Pupils only receiving a nutritious meal on school days. ¡
YOUNG - Children ¡ - - 1907 Education Act (Medical Inspections) Medical inspections started at school, school nurses checked for lice, TB, rickets etc. After 1912, education authorities could also provide free medical treatment.
Good points Helped to identify if pupils had illnesses like TB and rickets. ¡ Advice (not treatment) given to parents (although few could act on advice as had no money!). ¡ Did establish how widespread diseases caused by poverty were. ¡ Therefore, helped to tackle the evil of ‘DISEASE’. ¡
Bad points Did little to cure disease. ¡ Education authorities largely ignored the 1907 Act providing for free medical treatment. ¡
OLD - Elderly ¡ - 1908 Old Age Pensions Act Pensions for those 70 years + Between 1 to 5 shillings per week (5 p to 25 p) Could be collected at the post office.
Good points This was the first time that the government had taken care of the elderly population. ¡ This help was given as a right rather than as charity. ¡ Therefore, helped to tackle the evil of ‘WANT’. ¡
Bad points Pension age was too high, e. g. life expectancy for working class men in 1900 was 51 (pension at 70) ¡ Payment was small – ¼ of average wage. ¡ Lots of people were excluded, e. g. for immorality such as being a drunkard, having been in prison etc. ¡
WORKERS – Sick and Unemployed ¡ - - 1911 National Insurance Act (Part 1) Introduced compulsory health insurance for workers in certain trades earning less than £ 160 per year. The slogan was ‘ 9 d for 4 d’ – the employee paid 4 d, the employer 3 d and the state 2 d to provide sickness benefit of 9 d.
¡ - - 1911 National Insurance Act (Part 2) Compulsory scheme of unemployment insurance for trades badly hit by periodic unemployment e. g. ship building, construction. The worker, employer and the state made weekly contributions – if the worker fell out of work, he got 7 shillings a week(35 p) in benefit for up to 15 weeks in any year.
WORKERS - smaller Acts ¡ ¡ Introduced Labour Exchanges 1909 - like modern day job centres to let unemployed find jobs- 400 established. 1908 Miners 8 hour day – limited time men were forced to work underground 1909 Trades Board act supposedly to protect sweat shop workers by fixing minimum wages Shops Act 1911 limited working hours in shops, guaranteed shop worker a ½ day off per week.
Good points State recognising responsibility to workers – not always the workers fault if they were ‘idle’. ¡ Therefore, helping to tackle the evil ‘WANT’. ¡ Shops Act, Labour exchanges showed growing move away from Laissez-faire and government responsibilities to workers. ¡
Bad points Health insurance only provided for the employee and not his family. Was only 7 shillings for 15 weeks, covered only 7 trades. ¡ Unemployment insurance only applied to 7 trades e. g. shipbuilding, construction and not others e. g. farming. ¡
Summary – were the reforms successful? Young ¡ Elderly ¡ Workers ¡ Act Good points Bad points Successful?
How effective were the Liberal Reforms? ¡ ¡ The Liberal Reforms were piecemeal and limited at best and did not solve any of Britain’s social problems at that time. The majority of the reforms were of limited value. Many areas were ignored – there was little done to improve health or education and nothing at all to improve housing. Poor Law and workhouses remained.
Some have made exaggerated claims that the Liberal Reforms were the beginnings of the welfare state. ¡ But the reforms were never intended to solve all of Britain’s problems or to set up a complete welfare system. ¡
¡ ¡ ¡ There were however many good points: It was the first big example of a change in attitude by government away from the strict dogma of laissez-faire. Some help given to the poorest in society – eg. School children. For the first time the rights of certain sections of society to protection was recognised – eg. Elderly. It began the process of welfare reform and took it out of the domain of charitable works.