Politics of La Belle Époque Reform, Constitutional Crisis, & Ireland: 1901-1914
Edwardian England Edward VII (r. 1901-1910) Arthur James Balfour ran commons—but his conservatives lacked a meaningful platform Balfour Education Act—more $s for all schools, but religious teaching was no longer part of curriculum—even for religious schools. Angered Welsh dissenters. David Lloyd George became a well-know figure for denouncing Balfour Education Act
1906 Election Lacking a platform and direction, conservatives resorted to protectionism fearing German competition; cost conservatives their support among Liberal Unionists. 1906 Election—Free Trade vs. Protectionism— Liberals win 377 seats, but House of Lords “Balfour’s Poodle” would block much Liberal Legislation—stage set for Constitutional crisis.
Liberal Ministry of All Talents Henry Cambell-Bannerman (d. 1908) and then H. H. Asquith (the sledgehammer) headed government Sir Edward Grey ran the Foreign Office David Lloyd George headed Board of Trade and in 1908 the Exchequer Winston L. S. Churchill was Undersecretary for the Colonies
David Lloyd George (1863-1945); Winston Churchill (1874-1965)
Liberal Reforms 1906 Education Act—gave aid even to Catholic schools 1906 Bill to Eliminate Plural Voting—squelched in Lords Lloyd George drafted the 1909 budget designed to eliminate “poverty and squalor.” Lords rejected bill in defiance of centuries of tradition that commons controlled budget.
Constitutional Crisis 1910 Election returned a commons that passed 1909 budget again Commons called for 2x suspensive veto by Lords on money bills—after which they became law automatically. Lords rejected budget and suspensive veto Second 1910 election returned in favor of 1909 budget. Rather than see many new peers created to pass budget, Lords acquiesced to Budget and Suspensive Veto
More Reforms National Insurance Act (1910)—old age pensions 400 Ł per annum salary for m. p.s—now even poor could afford to serve in parliament Irish problem continued: Home Rule bill passed—Dublin Parliament (local); Westminster Parliament (imperial). Ulster Unionists under Carson rejected it; Sinn Fein and Ulstermen began war. 1914 passed after Lords failed to pass it for the 3 rd time.