Presentation on theme: "Issue 4 (Mr Beveridge) Why did the Liberal government of the early 20th century become involved in passing social reforms? Higher."— Presentation transcript:
1 Issue 4 (Mr Beveridge) Why did the Liberal government of the early 20th century become involved in passing social reforms?Higher
2 Big PictureBy end of 19th century there was increasing evidence that poverty had causes that were often beyond the ability of individuals to help themselves. When the Liberal government came to power in 1906 they began a series of social reforms. Issue looks at REASONS WHY the Liberals intervened to help ease the problem of poverty.
3 Some background (context) Mid 19thC most people accepted poverty and hardship not things government should or could do anything aboutIf the government became involved in helping poor it would cost money -> taxes would increaseMiddle class would have to pay more tax yet money would not be spent on themWhy should they help people they believed were too lazy to help themselves?
4 19th Century Attitudes to Poverty? Changed considerably – public and governmentGovernment policy towards social issues = ‘laissez-faire’= to leave aloneFeeling that poor should look after themselves at core of Samuel Smiles’ book Self HelpHe meant that an individual had obligation to look after himself and his family through effort and determination“Self help is the root of all genuine growth”Poverty is a sign of personal weakness – laziness or genetic inheritance
5 More Primary SourcesNorman Pearson (late 19thC voice on poverty) believed poor were “seldom capable of reform” and that they tended to be “made of inferior material....and cannot be improved” He also argued that the poor were poor “in their blood and bones” and that they should be prevented from breedingAs if poor treated as criminals
6 Last ResortScottish Poorhouse and English Workhouse existed to help absolutely destitutePlaces feared/hated – institutionsSignalled person’s failureTo enter was shameful/to be avoided at all costsAlternative was to depend on charitable organisations
7 Philanthropy = individuals doing good works to help less fortunate Scrooge= individuals doing good works to help less fortunateStrong theme running through Victorian/Edwardian societyWealthier people in society felt it was their moral duty to help poor encouraged by Christian belief that it was “better to give than receive”Contemporary historian J.R Green – hundreds of agencies at work over the same ground with no co-operation between themEffectiveness of charitable organisations limited – didn’t work together, lacked ‘big picture’
8 Changing Attitudes to Poverty Increasingly clear poor could not deal with circumstances beyond their controlAssumption that poverty was in some way the fault of the individual being questioned1889 writer George Sims argued for government intervention“There is a penalty for packing cattle too closely together: why should there be none for improperly housing men and women and children? The law says that no child shall grow up without reading, writing and arithmetic; but the law does nothing that children may have air, and light, and shelter”Charity might help temporarily, recognition that they did little to reach long term solutionsNothing more “than manuring the ground in which these social weeds grow” = not getting to root!
9 1. Pressure from reports on poverty? Rowntree and Booth showed that poverty had causes, was not ‘inborn’ and was widespread3. National Efficiency?Britain was no longer top industrial nation5. New Liberalism?New ideas on state interventionism entered the CabinetWhy did the Liberal Reforms of 1906 happen?4. Political Pragmatism/Advantage?The Liberals could lose votes to Labour if nothing was done to help the condition of the poor2. National Security?Boer War scare raised the question - Could Britain defend itself in a major conflict?6. Municipal socialism?Programmes of social welfare started by Liberal controlled local authorities were used as a model to influence national government to do likewise
10 1. Reports of Booth & Rowntree Investigations by Charles Booth and Seebohm Rowntree revealed true extent of povertyCharles Booth = London businessman who doubted claims of socialists that ¼ population lived in extreme povertyWorked with team of researchers, weekends/evenings Booth’s work based on hard statistical facts – not opinionBooth published Labour and Life of the People (1889)– 35% London’s population lived in extreme povertyContinued all over London, over next 12 years between 1891 and 1903, Booth published findings in 17 volumesArgued poverty was such a big problem that only government could helpIf nothing done to improve, Booth argued, Britain in danger of socialist revolution
11 1. continuedRowntree’s study of York (inspired by Booth) – Poverty, A Study of Town Life (1901) – 30% population York lived in extreme povertyInvestigations proved causes were often beyond the control of poor themselvesProblem therefore nationalDefined poverty – ‘poverty line’ = least a family could survive onAlso defined poverty as ‘primary’ or secondary’Primary = family lacked sufficient earnings to buy minimum necessitiesSecondary = earned enough but ‘wasted’ on items eg alcohol, gambling, smokingConcept of ‘deserving poor’ (poor through no fault of their own) took rootWhat could any individual do about low pay, unemployment, sickness and old age?York = relatively small ‘typical’ English city hid such problems so would other British citiesHowever, Rowntree recognised such ‘wasteful’ spending might well be ‘escapes’ caused by poverty!
12 2. National Security 1899 Boer War - South Africa (part of British Empire at time)Britain had relatively small army, volunteer recruits neededGovernment alarmed when almost 25% volunteers rejected because physically unfit to serveFigure even higher among volunteers from industrial citiesPoliticians & public asked could Britain survive a war/protect its empire against a far stronger enemy if nations ‘fighting stock’ so unhealthy?
13 2. contdInterdepartmental Committee on Physical Deterioration created to examine problem of ill-health in England & WalesRoyal Commission in Scotland did sameReports 1904 = physical condition many male adults poor – made recommendations about improving diet/overcrowdingRecommended free school meals and medical examinations for school childrenDirect influence on Liberal Reforms
14 3. National EfficiencyEnd of 19thC Britain no longer strongest industrial nationFacing serious competition from new industrial nations eg. GermanyBelieved that if the health and educational standards of Britain’s workers got worse, Britain’s position as strong industrial power threatened
15 3. contdConcern that in times of economic depression unemployment soared in certain in some areas whilst jobs existed in others!Politicians eg. Churchill = part of problem was unemployed did not know where new jobs were = inefficiency and weakening Britain’s industrial outputIn Germany a system of welfare benefits and old age pensions already set up (1880s)1898 New Zealand introduced old-age pensionsLloyd George witnesses/approved of German scheme of sickness insurance on visit 1908Why couldn’t Britain not do likewise?In response Liberals opened Labour exchanges- helped unemployed seek jobs
16 4. Political Advantage & 5. New Liberalism 1884 most working class men had vote – Liberals had tended to attract many of those votes1906 newly formed Labour Party competing for same votesSelfish reason – to retain working class votes?Liberals argued Liberalism = individual freedom with least possible involvement of government in lives of ordinary people‘Old Liberal’ attitudes believed poverty due to personal defects of character but as realisation grew, definition changed/grew‘New Liberals’ argued state intervention necessary to liberate people from social problems over which they had no controlParty had been out of power since 1886 – large number of Liberals willing to swallow their concerns
17 4. contdNevertheless New Liberal ideas not important in 1906 general election campaignLiberals made no mention of social reforms in party manifestoWhen Liberals took over government in 1906 some reforms introduced – mostly associated with public concern over national securityOnly when ‘Old Liberal’ Prime Minister Campbell Bannerman died in 1908 did door open for new ‘interventionist’ ideasPrime Minister Asquith appointed – New Liberals eg. David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill given top jobs -> led to flood of social reforms
18 6. Municipal SocialismBy end of 19thC public become used to increasing levels of local/national govt interventionImprovements carried out by local (municipal) authorities - paid for by system of local taxation - used to improve lives of people locallyWealthy did pay most but was poor who gained most benefitIn this sense, basic socialist idea of redistributing wealth could be seen in operationFor this reason, local auth action to use local taxation income for social improvement was called Municipal SocialismNationally: host of laws improved working & living conditions- Factory Acts- Public Health Acts
19 6. contdIn growing towns/cities, some Liberal-controlled local auths became deeply involved in social welfare programmes1873 Liberal Joseph Chamberlain became Mayor of Birmingham and for next 3 years he used his influence in municipal politics to introduces reformseg. Birmingham’s water supply considered danger to public health. Piped water only supplied 3 days per week, ½ city’s population dependent on well water, much of it polluted by sewage. Chamberlain purchased Birmingham’s water works & gas works. Also cleared many of Birmingham’s slumsChamberlain became known for his brand of ‘municipal socialism’Words of one report: he left Birmingham “parked, paved, gas and watered and improved”
20 6. contdCity authorities spent money on improving wide range of services- hospitals established- attempts made to improve housing- although as late 1886 Glasgow still had 1/3 of its families living in 1 roomed houses- By 1850s, Glasgow Town Hall had control of the city water supply, by 1860s was involved in providing gas street lightingLong before national government got involved in social reforms to improve lives of citizens, local authorities were well on way. Such a trend towards social reform and government control can be considered a factor in setting scene for Liberal reforms (A)