• 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)

    They were in business for profit and objected to Lloyd George's proposal to include widows' and orphans' benefits. Lloyd George was forced to back down and exclude the two "funeral" benefits. Also, the British Medical Association immediately put up objections when they heard Lloyd George's proposals.

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

    One could assume that the most likely of reasons for introducing the reforms would have been to gain some tactical advantage over the other parties(Hay, 1975, p27), particularly over the emerging Labour Party. This argument can be validated further by the fact that, by the early 1900s, the Labour Party

  1. Constitutional Crisis 1909

    to pass the budget and this they were willing to give, in return for an attack on the powers of the House of Lords. They were keen to see the Lords weakened so that they could achieve their desire for Home Rule for Ireland.

  2. Why did the Liberals win and the Conservatives lose the 1906 Election?

    You can see here that Balfour didn't really take control of his party, and made poor decisions and actions. This can be backed up by looking at what Goodlad said, 'The chosen approach of the Party Leader ensured the worst possible outcome'.

  1. Resistance to slavery.

    of the need to maintain militias The Barbados Revolts of 1649,1675, 1686,1692 and 1702 The most important reason for these uprising were planters failed to provide food clothing and other supplies for their fast growing slave population. Again these revolts were unsuccessful.

  2. To what extent could the Liberal reforms of 1906-1914 be described as a radical ...

    It is clear that many historians and commentators have conflicting views concerning the Liberal Administration and question the motives for reform. However, there is no doubt that the Liberals introduced a series of important measures. The social reforms to benefit the lowest classes were centred on three areas, children, elderly and poverty resulting from unemployment and sickness.

  1. Why was The Great Reform Act passed in 1832 ?

    Some large towns such as Manchester, Birmingham and four districts in London were given two representatives each. The representation of Ireland and Scotland was also increased. The bill also meant more than 250,000 adult males were added to the electoral rolls, but overall only 20% of people now had the vote in England, 12% in Scotland and 5% in Ireland.

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

    healthier meaning Britain could gain a more efficient workforce and allow more rapid economic development like Germany.

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