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Liberal Reforms Motives Why did the government feel the need to introduce reform? Higher History.

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Presentation on theme: "Liberal Reforms Motives Why did the government feel the need to introduce reform? Higher History."— Presentation transcript:

1 Liberal Reforms Motives Why did the government feel the need to introduce reform? Higher History

2 MOTIVES What were the MOTIVES for the Liberal Reforms ? When the Liberals were elected in 1906, there had been no mention of introducing social welfare reform in their manifesto. So why did the Liberal Reforms get introduced? We will study this topic in 4 sections.

3 4 Motives for Reform 4 headings 1. Amount of Poverty 2. National Stock/Efficiency 3. Fear of Labour Party/Socialism 4. New Liberalism

4 4 Motives for Reform 4 headings Philanthropic reasons: Good Reasons 1. Amount of Poverty 2. National Stock/Efficiency Political Motivation reasons: Selfish reasons 3. Fear of Labour Party/Socialism 4. New Liberalism

5 1. Amount of Poverty At the end of the 19th century two social surveys were published that not only shocked the British public but changed popular opinion on the causes of poverty. They helped pave the way for a whole range of government-led welfare reforms. Independently of each other, two wealthy businessmen, Charles Booth and Seebohm Rowntree, sponsored major investigations into the extent and causes of poverty in British cities.

6 Charles Booth “The survey into London life and labour”. Click on image to view video clip.

7 Seebohm Rowntree First York study (1899). Click on image to view clip.

8 Findings of the Surveys Their findings agreed on two key points: Up to 30% of the population of the cities were living in or below poverty levels. The conditions were such that people could not pull themselves out of poverty by their own actions alone. illness, unemployment and age Booth and Rowntree both identified the main causes of poverty as being illness, unemployment and age - both the very young and the old were at risk of poverty.

9 Importance of the Surveys: Analysis Points In turn, these surveys were important for two reasons: They showed how big the problem of poverty really was, over 30%, dispelling the idea that very few people were affected by it. Showed the real causes of poverty e.g. unemployment, old age, sickness etc. Showed that contrary to popular opinion, poverty was not self-inflicted as society had imagined. This was important in attacking the idea of laissez-faire government.

10 2. National Stock/Efficiency Fears that Britain was in decline as a world power led to the idea that Britain had to improve its national efficiency (national stock) by taking steps to improve the quality of the workforce. If Britain was to compete and maintain its position as a world power, then it had to be run efficiently with a strong, healthy and well-educated workforce Fears over the emergence of Germany as a world power

11 National Stock/Efficiency The Boer War ( ) The Boer War ( ) During the war, the British army experienced great difficulty in finding fit young men to recruit as soldiers. One in three potential recruits was refused on medical grounds. This led to questions being asked about the physical condition of the working class male. Would he be able to perform the tasks expected of him in the workplace and on the battlefield? The Government would have to do something to ensure basic health levels among the population.

12 It was felt that countries like the USA and especially Germany were pulling ahead of Britain. Reforms would have to be introduced to build up the ‘national stock’. Liberal politicians like Winston Churchill and Lloyd George had visited Germany (Britain’s main rival) and were impressed by the effects on the nations health by the range of welfare benefits the German government had introduced – e.g. pensions and free school meals. Britain felt threatened by Germany’s multitude of fit and strong young men

13 National Efficiency: Analysis Points Britain was shocked at the poor physical condition of the working class especially with the growing threat of Germany. Reforms such as free school meals 1906 or school medical inspections 1908 were not just charitable but a way of building better workers and future soldiers.

14 . Fear of Labour Party/Socialism 3. Fear of Labour Party/Socialism The Labour Party was newly established and it was winning public support for its campaigns for social welfare policies, such as old age pensions and unemployment benefits. The ruling Liberal Party recognised the threat this new party posed to its traditional support in many working class areas.

15 Fear of labour – Analysis points To counter the threat from the socialist and Labour movement, the Liberals realised that they had to instigate social reforms or risk losing political support from the working classes. They tried to buy off voters with smaller reforms to avoid bigger ones e.g. offered pensions but raised the age limit to 70 years old.

16 4. New Liberalism Old Liberalism meant Laissez – faire; poverty as the problem of the individual and minimal state intervention A new type of Liberalism had emerged by 1906, and it was this ‘New Liberalism' which provided the inspiration for reform. New Liberals, such as Lloyd George, Winston Churchill and Herbert Asquith, argued that there were circumstances in which it was right for the state to intervene in people's lives. They represented poorer areas – e.g. Lloyd George in Wales and Winston Churchill in Dundee.

17 New Liberalism - Analysis By pressing for reforms like pensions or free school meals ‘New Liberals’ would get noticed by the public and at the same time help their working class voters who in turn would vote for them. For ambitious men like Lloyd George it was also a way of gaining power in his own party e.g. as chancellor of the Exchequer he had been famous for passing a ‘super tax’ to pay for reform.

18 Main Liberal Reforms 1906 Free School Meals 1906 Free School Meals – 14 million per week being issued by Old Age Pensions 1909 Old Age Pensions – 25p per week for those 70+ (1/4 average wage) National Insurance I 1911 National Insurance I – sickness benefit for poorer workers – e.g. paid for doctor and medicine National Insurance II 1911 National Insurance II – gave unemployment insurance to half a million poorly paid workers or those in seasonal employment.

19 Task Read pages This will provide you with more detailed information on the motives for the Liberal Reforms. Take notes – this will help you with your essay on the topic.


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