Presentation on theme: "The Liberal Reforms. Why did the Liberals pass reforms to help the young? Rowntrees survey in particular revealed a great deal of poverty amongst children."— Presentation transcript:
The Liberal Reforms
Why did the Liberals pass reforms to help the young? Rowntrees survey in particular revealed a great deal of poverty amongst children. It was accepted that poor children were deserving poor. They were poor through no fault of their own. Margaret MacMillan, a doctor and supporter of the Labour party pushed for free school meals and medical inspections. Secondary education was not free or widely available. The school leaving age was 13. Levels of juvenile crime were high in British cities.
The Young Provision of School Meals Act 1906 Permitted, but did not compel local authorities to provide free school meals for children. Local authorities could pay for it by raising a half a penny in the pound on local rates. By ,000 free school meals a day, but only half of local authorities in England and Wales involved. Made compulsory 1914.
Education Act 1908 (1907 in England) School medical Inspections (Part of the Education Act) Every child was to be inspected by a qualified nurse or doctor. Height, weight, eyes, teeth, cleanliness and evidence of diseases were all checked. In Glasgow it was discovered that 80 – 90% of children had bad teeth and 30% had lice. If there were problems a letter was sent to parents, but no treatment until 1912 when school clinics were set up.
Education Act 1908 (cont). Secondary Schools in receipt of taxpayers money. All schools in receipt of taxpayers money must set aside 25% of their places as scholarships. This was intended to provide an opportunity for working class children to access secondary education more easily, however there was nothing to stop middle class children applying for these scholarships.
The Children Act (or the Childrens Charter) Under-18s were not allowed to be sold alcohol and under 16s were not allowed to be sold tobacco or fireworks. There was a complete ban on children begging. Juvenile courts were established to deal with juvenile crime. Remand homes were set up for children awaiting trial or sentencing from court. If convicted, children were to be sent to borstals rather than prison Probation officers were appointed to look after young offenders after they came out of prison. Abolished the death penalty for children.
Successes and Limitations The Liberal reforms for the young were patchy. School meals were not compulsory until 1914 and there was no medical treatment available in schools until Therefore these reforms had very little effect on the health of working class children. The Childrens Charter was a comprehensive attempt to deal with the consequences of juvenile crime, but did little to tackle the causes. The biggest cause of child poverty is parental poverty, which was not tackled effectively by the Liberals.
The Old Why did the Liberals decide to introduce an Old Age Pension? The Germans had introduced pensions in the 1880s and Lloyd George had been to Germany to study the German model. The idea had been turned down in Britain in the 1890s, as it was too expensive. There was some pressure from the trade unions and the Labour Party. There was a genuine desire to help the elderly deserving poor and remove the shadow of the workhouse from the lives of elderly paupers.
The Old Age Pensions Act, 1908 A pension of between 5s and 1s a week for those over 70 was introduced on a sliding scale, according to the income of the pensioner. Married couples would receive 10s per week. The pension would be collected at the Post Office. When it was introduced, it was expected that about 650,000 pensioners would claim; in fact there were nearly 1million by There was no expectation that only those who had paid contributions would receive the pension.
How effective was this reform? The pension was not very generous, given that average life- expectancy was 55 and that Rowntree estimated 7s a week to be a basic subsistence level. However pensions are one of the cornerstones of a modern welfare state and the act did provide a safety net to keep the elderly poor out of the workhouse. It was also a huge step for the government in terms of finance. The Budget of 1909 proposed an increase in income tax and death duties to pay for the introduction of pensions. This budget was rejected by the House of Lords and resulted in a constitutional crisis and the 1911 Parliament Act. This is a measure of just how radical and significant the introduction of Pensions was.
The Sick Why was reform needed to help the sick? It was recognised that the sick were deserving poor. Both Booth and Rowntree had uncovered evidence of sickness leading to poverty. Medical treatment had to be paid for. Germany had introduced a National Insurance scheme in the 1880s.
The Workmens Compensation Act, 1906 Workers who earned under £160 p.a. and who were injured or made sick through their work and no fault of their own were entitled to half of their salary until they were fit to return to work. In theory this was good, but it was difficult and costly to prove the liability of employers. Many cases could not be brought to court without Trade Union support.
The National Insurance Act (Part 1: Health Insurance) 1911 This was a compulsory scheme, applying to all workers and employers. Contributions would be made weekly to a fund by the employee (4d), the employer (3d) and the state (2d). 9d for 4d From this fund benefits would be paid when a worker was sick: 10s per week for 26 weeks (7s 6d for women). After 26 weeks, an indefinite disability pension of 5 shillings per week. Free medical (gp only) treatment for insured workers. (The doctors were paid for from the insurance fund). Those suffering from T.B. were entitled to special hospital treatment in a sanatorium. The wives of insured workers were paid a sum of 30s after the birth of a baby.
Successes and Limitations of the National Insurance Act (Part 1: Health Insurance) This was a selective and not a universal reform (like most of the Liberal reforms), as only workers were insured. The families of insured workers (for example wives and children) were not entitled to free medical treatment. If a worker died, there was no pension for the widow. However, like old age pensions, national insurance is a fundamental part of a modern welfare state, which was established for the first time by the Liberals.
The Unemployed Why was reform needed to help the unemployed? Not all of the unemployed were regarded as deserving poor, so the Liberal reforms in this area were quite limited. However, it was recognised that there was a lot of seasonal and irregular unemployment. The Poor Law could not cope with the high levels of short-term unemployment. Unemployed men could vote and many of them were choosing to vote for the Labour Party. The Germans had introduced a system of National Insurance for unemployment.
Labour Exchanges Churchill (as President of the Board of Trade) was responsible for this reform along with a civil servant called William Beveridge. Labour Exchanges (early Job Centres) were established to co-ordinate workers who were looking for jobs and employers who needed workers.
Successes and Limitations of Labour Exchanges. Previously workers often had to walk miles looking for a job or queue outside factory gates for hours every day. This was a very successful reform. By 1913 there were over 430 Labour Exchanges in Britain. Of most benefit to skilled and semi-skilled workers. Employers werent obliged to advertise all vacancies. The unemployed werent obliged to attend the Labour Exchanges.
National Insurance Act, 1911 (Part II) Unemployment Only employees in particular industries were covered (Sawmilling, vehicle construction, building and construction, iron founding, shipbuilding and mechanical engineering.) Covered 2.25 million workers. Employers, workers and the state all made a weekly contribution. Benefit of 7s p.w. was paid for a maximum of 15 weeks in any one year. Claimants had to sign on daily at the Labour Exchange, and would claim and receive their benefits there.
Successes and Limitations of the Act The Act marked both a significant move away from the idea of self-help by recognising that there were deserving poor amongst the jobless and an important extension of the role of the state. An innovative reform, with no equivalent anywhere else, which recognised that employment had complex causes. Cover was only provided for the person making the contributions, not their family. 7s was considered the bare subsistence level for an individual. If unemployment exceeded the time limit, the Poor Law had to be used for support (ie the poor/workhouse). The Act did not include agricultural workers, even though they were particular victims of seasonal unemployment. Contributions were difficult to afford for many of those workers who were included, many of whom were low- paid.
Helping the Low-Paid Booths concept of primary poverty had recognised that many were poor because, although employed, their wages were too low to allow them to rise out of poverty. Such workers were increasingly unionised and even enfranchised, so policies to defuse political and industrial unrest and militancy were required.
The Trade Boards Act of 1909 established trade boards or committees within local areas to establish minimum conditions in sweated trades such as lace, chain and nail-making, which had long hours and low wages. Local boards could also establish minimum wages in their particular area. The Trade Disputes Act of 1906 reversed a previous judgement by the Law Lords that unions should have to pay companies damages for business lost by strikes. This judgement had, in effect, removed strikes as a weapon to achieve improvements for workers. The new act effectively restored to unions the ability to strike.
The Trade Disputes Act only helped workers indirectly and was not a welfare reform as such. Nonetheless, it allowed unions to fight more effectively on behalf of their members, and, indeed, the 1900s saw many strikes within major industries. The Trade Boards Act had only limited success, in that wages and conditions were decided locally and voluntarily in many of these Boards and there was wide variation across the country.