• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Why In The Years 1906-1911 Did The Liberal Government Embark On An Extensive Programme Of Social Reform?

Extracts from this document...


Why In The Years 1906-1911 Did The Liberal Government Embark On An Extensive Programme Of Social Reform? Before the landslide election of 1906, the Conservative Party had been in office for twenty years. The Liberals did not have social and welfare reform at the forefront of their manifesto, but within their time in office they radically modernised the way that government dealt with poverty. Numerous factors influenced the beginning of reform; election victory, the rise of socialism, new liberalism, national efficiency and unemployment being the most prominent. During the Liberal's time in opposition, the Conservative Party had become to seem divided; had lost much of its middle class support, and they were failing to appeal to the working classes. The 1902 Education Act caused a political storm - the Conservatives were split, giving opportunity for the Liberals to unite in their opposition to the Act. The government was not implementing the reforms deemed necessary to alleviate poverty, and Prime Minister Balfour reinforced the impression of the Conservative's being unconcerned and unwilling to execute improvements. Balfour was guilty of not understanding the lives of the people and the effects poverty had, his aloof, remote mannerisms were not going to win over the masses at large. By 1906 people were beginning to come around to the 'collectivist' methods of tackling poverty; in 1884 sixty percent of working men were entitled to vote, and the Conservatives were not putting their concerns high on the political agenda. ...read more.


By the end of the 1800s, the efficiency of the general populous was questionable, and many people believed only government intervention and social reform could effectively tackle the problem. Foreign economies were thriving, and the British government was faced with the results of the studies conducted by Booth and Rowntree, which undeniably proved that the poverty and squalor of the working classes was often through no fault of their own, and government involvement on a national scale was needed if the issue was to be addressed. It was realised that if poverty were dealt with then the lowest classes of society would be better capable of making a positive contribution to the country. People were most alarmed at the fact that Britain's military might may be damaged because those who volunteered to fight were deemed physically unfit for service. A government Inter-Departmental Committee on Physical Deterioration blamed the unhealthy state of children on parents providing less than adequate care. Industrialists were relying on skilled workers who needed to be content enough to work hard. The fight to improve national efficiency needed to be based on welfare reforms, and it also helped in the development of New Liberalism. Radical or more modern liberals such as Churchill and Lloyd George were key figures in shaping Liberal reforms, and the emerging of New Liberalism, in contrast to the previous 'Gladstonian Liberalism'. ...read more.


As a result, the 1909 Labour Exchanges Act was passed; unemployed men were able to visit their local exchange and be advised on vacancies in their specific trade. The poor law was no longer believed to be an efficient or effective way to tackle unemployment, and the Liberals looked for a way to provide maintenance for those out of work. A national unemployment insurance scheme was incorporated into the 1911 health insurance Act. It did not cover all trades; just those prone to seasonal work. In the years 1906 - 1911, the Liberal party embarked on an extensive, but unplanned programme of social reform in response to the social climate of the times. The rise of socialism in the form of the labour party was believed to have the possibility of becoming a powerful force of opposition to the liberals, the economy was suffering and the nation as a whole was seen as inefficient, people were not fit for purpose and the levels of unemployment throughout the country were crippling. New Liberalism was a radical branch of the Liberal party that focused on ideals such as collectivism, positive freedom and state intervention, and believed them to be the most effective ways to tackle the issue of welfare and social reform. Although New Liberalism was not popular with Liberal party members at the time of the landslide victory, influential men such as Churchill and Lloyd George became pioneers in later years, and under Herbert Asquith (Prime Minister 1908-1916) a successful period of reform began. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level British History: Monarchy & Politics section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level British History: Monarchy & Politics essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    The Liberal Reforms (1906-1914)

    4 star(s)

    He justified his proposals by saying that it was a War Budget, for raising money to "wage implacable warfare against poverty and squalidness". Groups such as the Friendly Societies, Trade Unions and Industrial Insurance Companies, as well as Doctors, opposed the plan for a contributory health insurance scheme for various reasons.

  2. Resistance to slavery.

    The Providence Revolt of 1639 This was the first slave revolt to occur in the British West Indies. The revolt was a surprise as there were only about ninety slaves to 500 white on the island at the time. The revolt did not succeed, but it made the British conscious

  1. Why did the Liberals introduce major social reforms from 1906 to 1911 and how ...

    radical, rather they were concerned with achieving limited changes such as reversing legal decisions which were damaging to the Trade Unions (Hay, 1975, p27). It would appear that the Liberal Party was not forced into social reform, neither by massive popular demand, nor by genuine threat of revolution.

  2. How did the elderly fare in welfare terms under the English New Poor Law?

    As with the passing of the Poor Law, this was merely a sign of the times: the elderly were presumed to be the responsibility of the family whom they themselves had raised. Little thought was paid to the possibility of the destitution of the familial support structure for Britain's elderly.

  1. Why did the Liberals win a landslide victory in the 1906 elcections?

    However Tariff reform damaged the Conservatives. Many voters both working and middle class, feared that tariffs would mean dearer food and falling living standards. One leading Conservative, one Winston Churchill, actually voted for the Liberals on the issue in 1904.

  2. How important was the Boer War in the Liberal election victory of 1906?

    Chamberlain?s policy also split the Conservative party as many of them believed in free trade like the Liberals. One other impact of the war, was that it made it easier for the Liberals and the Labour movement to form a political alliance this was due to their shared attitudes towards the war.

  1. Explain why the Liberals introduced social reform between 1906 and 1914

    Workers in the scheme could also have free medical care. However, it enforced deductions from already low wages and failed to include dependants. In 1909, the trade board act was set up for people who were low paid. This act established a minimum wage keeping people above the poverty line.

  2. To what extent were the welfare reforms of the Liberal governments between 1906 and ...

    were found that a Liberal parliament had done nothing to cope seriously with the social conditions of the people, to remove the national degradation of slums and widespread poverty and destitution in a land glittering wit wealth? This showed that even though Asquith himself may have had other reasons for

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work