Reasons For The Liberal Reforms (New Liberalism (New Liberals (Believed…
Reasons For The Liberal Reforms
By late 1800s, local government began helping in people's lives.
Taxed wealthier people to pay for improvements.
Many people didn't mind as they saw the positive results for their communities.
Suffered extreme cholera breakouts in 1842 and 1853.
Took control of the water supply in the 1850s.
Helped to provide gas street lighting by 1860.
Public parks were open to all to provide fresh air and relaxation.
Libraries were opened for education and 'self-improvement'.
Hospitals were established and attempts were made to improve housing.
Liberal Joseph Chamberlain took over the water supply.
Bought the gas works.
Got rid of many slums.
Authorities invested in services like hospitals, swimming pools and schools.
Enlarged Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.
Opened many parks.
Long before national social reforms, local authorities had done so in many cities.
These reforms and government control can be seen as a vital factor in setting the scene for Liberal reforms.
The people that liked it was the poorer in society.
It wasn't popular with the rich and middle class to have to pay a lot of tax to provide for the poor.
His survey showed that 35% of London's population were living in poverty.
Did surveys all over London between 1891 and 1903
He concluded that the government needed to do something or else there would be a socialist revolution.
Showed that poverty was often out of the individual's control and restricted people's ability to control their own lives.
Wanted to see if Booth's findings matched across the country so did research in York.
Found that about 28-30% of York's population was in poverty.
Because a small city like York had so much poverty it was concluded that other cities would have similar levels off poverty and was recognised as a national problem.
Rowntree's View on Poverty
Thought that people could dip in and out of poverty and different points in their lives depending on circumstances.
Two types of poverty - primary and secondary
Primary poverty was families earning less than 21 shillings a week. They were in poverty due to their circumstance.
Secondary poverty was when a family's earning took them above the poverty line but their spending dipped them below it. Rowntree found that some 'wasted' money on unnecessary items such as alcohol, cigarettes and gambling.
Gave undeniable evidence that poverty was a problem.
Showed that it was a nation-wide issue.
Showed that it wasn't always the individual's fault.
Made government fear a revolution.
There were only two reports.
It's doubtful whether these alone would have convinced the government to take such radical action.
The last report was written three years before the Liberals came to power.
Many MPs argues against the surveys and still blamed the poor for their poverty.
D. Fraser, 'The Evolution of the British Welfare State' - "Booth and Rowntree gave to the growing public concern over poverty the statistical evidence on which to build the case of state aid."
Rise of Labour
The Labour Party
Formed as the party of the working class and wanted to get them into parliament as they saw no real choice.
Policies to attract the working class such as better housing, equal votes, more jobs and an 8 hour working day
1900 General Election: 2 MPs
1906 General Election: 29 MPs
Liberals wanted to be seen as sympathetic towards the poor in order to ensure they attracted voters in the elections.
They were afraid of potentially losing a huge amount of support to the newly formed Labour Party.
There were a number of Liberals who were concerned about reforms but put their concerns aside in the hope that they would gain working class voters.
The 1906 Labour manifesto was full of promises of social reforms whereas the Liberal manifesto was not.
This proves that they were not making promises just to attract voters during the election campaign.
Fears Over National Security
Boer War 1899 - 1902
Britain's war in South Africa
Expected to be a short and easy victory but took 3 years even though it was 400,000 British against 35,000 Boers.
Humiliation for Britain and raised doubts about army strength.
Fitness of Volunteers
Britain needed more troops but 25% of volunteers were rejected as they were unfit.
This figure rose in industrial areas.
This led to questions of whether Britain would be able to survive a war against more powerful nations with such an unhealthy population.
A committee was set up to investigate these concerns and in 1904 they suggested in their report to improve diet and reduce overcrowding. They recommended free school meals and medical examinations for school children.
Poor health conditions of troops showed that the government weren't doing enough to help the poor
The government were afraid for the future of the army, particularly at a time of rivalry with Germany.
Highlighted concerns over the health of young people and Liberals introduced reforms to help them - e.g. free school meals, school medical examinations, children's charter.
Liberal reforms also helped old people e.g. pensions.
These laws could not have been motivated by concerns over military strength.
Alan Skyes - "The high proportion of army volunteers from the large towns rejected as physically unfit appeared to confirm the alarming finding of Booth and Rowntree"
Believed in laissez-faire
Henry Campbell Bannerman: PM 1905-1908
Believed poverty needed to be addressed through government action.
Familiar with social surveys
Many prominent politicians had New Liberal beliefs
Herbert Asquith: PM 1908-1916
David Lloyd George: Chancellor 1908-1915, War Secretary July-December 1916, PM 1916-1922
Winston Churchill: President of the Board of Trade 1908-1910, Home Secretary 1910-1911
Supported state intervention in some circumstances.
Took influential cabinet positions
Put pressure on the Old Liberal government to reform.
They genuinely wanted to help the poor.
Many represented poor areas so saw poverty first hand and needed to help the people.
Outnumbered by Old Liberals
Questionable motive - did they just want votes?
Old Liberal in power when liberal reforms took place so couldn't be the only factor.
Winston Churchill - "I see little glory in an Empire which can rule the waves is unable to flush its sewers."
Winston Churchill - "If we see a drowning man we do not drag him to the shore. Instead, we provide help to allow him to swim ashore."