How Effective Were the Social Reforms of 1906

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  • Topic: Liberalism, David Lloyd George, Liberal Party
  • Pages : 5 (1877 words )
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  • Published : April 17, 2011
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How Effective Were The Liberal Reforms In The Period 1906-1914?  The liberal party led by Henry Campbell Bannerman won a landslide victory over the conservatives in the 1960 general election. They won 377 seats giving then an enormous majority of 84 over all other parities combined. Bannerman retired in 1908 and his successor Herbert Asquith, who brought about an increasing shift towards reform, originating from the initiatives of Lloyd George the Board of Trade and Winston Churchill the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Both of these characters were very influential in the idea of New Liberalism. New Liberalism was completely committed to radical, social reforms. This is exactly what the government tried to enforce between the years 1906-1914 and the ‘lib-labs’ (radical liberals) passed several reforms to try and liberalise Britain from the previous conservative rule. The huge scale of the Liberal party's victory in the 1906 general election guaranteed many new faces among the ranks of Liberal MPs, in favour of change in the field of social welfare. Between the years 1906 and 1914, the Liberals took steps to improve the health standards and the living and working conditions of the lower class. The main area of peoples new legislation was targeted on was the working class under risk of poverty due to sickness or unemployment, their children and old age pensioners. In 1906, the Liberals passed the Trades dispute Act this reversed the Taff Vale Dispute of 1901, thus protecting union funds from claims for damages arising from strikes. The government introduced the Education Act in 1906. This meant that local education authorities were providing school meals for destitute children by levying an additional rate of halfpenny in the pound. Although the Act was seen as progressive, the fact that it was not made compulsory argues if it was effective enough. By 1911, less than a third of all education authorities were using rates to support school meal provision and it had taken until 1914 for the Board of Education to make such provision compulsory. Meanwhile, in 1907, the Education Act made medical inspections for children compulsory. Under this Act, the Board of Education was able to specify that at least three inspections must take place during a child's school years. This was introduced in order to reduce the outbreaks of disease, which were very frequent at the time. Although this step helped improve national health levels in children, there were no such measures introduced after school life. The fact that there was no National Health Service introduced shows that although the Liberals attempted to improve the welfare of children, they did not improve the health conditions of adults or school leaver’s. This reform only managed little success as local councils had to make the inspections but they did not have to do anything about what they found. Not all councils acted on the problems they discovered. Too thirds were being provided with medical treatment by 1914. Finally, the Children's act of 1908 introduced a consolidation of measures to deal with child neglect and abuse and set up juvenile courts and remand homes to remove child offenders from the adult courts and prisons. This Act ensured children were not living on the streets without food or education. The attempts made to improve child welfare were eventually successful, but the time taken to enforce all the legislation means the laws passed only helped improve conditions for some children during the period from 1906 to 1914. Another main target for the Liberals was the welfare of old age pensioners. Poverty was high as they had no successful financial backing from the government and could not make enough money working. The Old Age Pensions Act was introduced in 1908. The Act provided for pensions of 5s per week to be paid to those aged 70 or over who had annual incomes of £21 or less. For incomes over £21 a sliding scale of descending, graduated payments would be made up...
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