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Liberal Reforms Timeline Gcse History Coursework

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  1. Hey guys

    1. What were the working and living conditions for the poor like in the 1890s?
    2. How were social reformers reacting to the social problems of the 1890s?
    3. Why did the liberal government introduce reforms to help the young,old and unemployed?
    4. How effective were these reforms?
    5. What was the social,political and legal position of women in the 1890s?
    6. What were the arguments for and against female suffreage?
    7. How effective were the activities of the suffragists and the suffragettes?
    8. How did women contribute to the War effort?
    9. How effective was government propaganda during the war?
    10. Why were some women given the vote in 1918?
    11. What was the attitude of the British people at the end of the war towards Germany and the Paris peace conference?

    Time line:
    • During this century Britain was transformed Due to the INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION.=Factories + towns developed at an unprecedented rate, attracting more people who were eager to have a taste of the prosperity and richness Britain was accumulating through her empire.
    • However,with prosperity comes problems...By more people coming to the towns like London and York;lead to appalling housing which had cramped conditions where diseases like cholera could spread.This contributed to the national problem with poverty and strengthened the factor of national efficiency which partly lead to the liberal reforms.
    • The government interfered little and relied heavily on charities and the Poor law of 1834(Work house for poor people=key feature of this law) to help the poor.People in the government and many other British People thought poverty was due to idleness and spending money on non essential goods like alcohol.
    • Women= economically dependent on men. Men could imprison his wife in their own home until 1891 and the main attitude was that women seemed to belong to men. Around 10% of women where in paid employment. However,attitudes saw some progress with middle class couples using contraception and the 1882 law allowed women to keep their own property and income once they were married

    1890-1906 why did the reforms take place.

    • Booth and Rowntree-Firstly, i would like to outline the importance of Booth and Rowntree which is illustrated in my second post on this thread;where they made the issue of poverty,public and caused national sympathy for those less fortunate.
    • The German model- Otto Von Bismarck ( German chancellor) till 1890s, passed a series of measures to help the unfortunate in Germany, which inspired the liberals to introduce the reforms; along with Germany's military and economic strength.
    • National efficiency and the Boer war- By 1899 Britian was at war with the boers in south Africa. When the men volunteered , about 40% (almost half) were unfit for service due to their poor physical condition, which was a result of extreme poverty.At this point Britian was starting to lose its crown as the leading world super power.This raised questions in the minds of politicians whether, Britian could be able to reassert it's self as the leading super power, when it had a population that is too weak to fight or work efficiently...Something had to be done.
    • Labour(popular socialism)- at this point a new party came along- labour party. This party was winning popularity from the working classes which were entitled to the vote by by this stage .They attracted support through their promises of unemployment benefits and old age pensions.Also in the 1906 election labour won more seats in parliament. Inorder to retain votes from the working class, the liberals had to introduce measures, to help them.
    • New liberalism-By 1906 there were new liberals like Herbert Asquith, David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill, who argued that there were circumstances in which the state could intervene
    • There is a little video that explains it better than me.

    There is some background to get you started

    Info on WW1- courtesy of AparnaX



    That's because the specification changed isn't it? And also june 2009 was recruitment where as jan 2010 was government propaganda. They're both under the Home Front but slightly different.

    However, just in case, I think learn these facts:

    • Britain's army originally consisted of 250,000 men.
    • Lord Kitchener, Secretary of State of War, was informed at least 1 million were needed so there was a huge government campaign to get young men to enlist.
    • Recruitment posters, pamphlets, patriotic speeches by politicians, and the setting up of recruitment offices in every town helped drive this campaign.
    • By the end of the first month 500,000 men enlisted, and by March 1916 2.6 million men had enlisted in 'Kitchener's army'. This showed the effectiveness of government propaganda.
    • Men joined up in 'Pals Battalions'.
    • They enlisted because they felt it was their duty to the nation, they wanted to protect their country and family, they were persuaded by recruitment posters, they didn't want to be seen as cowards and generally public pressure (suffragettes went round giving men white feathers as a sign of cowardice for not enlisting), they felt war would be exciting and adventurous, and they wanted to escape from their mundane life or dead-end jobs
    • 750,000 men died in the war and many were mentally scarred. As casualties increased, replacement was needed but volunteer numbers dropped.
    • Volunteer system was seen as unfair and it damaged agriculture and industries as miners and farmers joined. So in January 1916 conscription was introduced, meaning all single men between 18 and 41 had to join the army (later extended to married men) This may be seen as evidence that gov. propaganda wasn't effective.
    • Conscientious objectors were people who didn't believe in war for moral, religious or political reasons and didn't want to fight. They were seen as unpatriotic and cowardly, evident by their derisive nickname 'conchies'.
    • They had to appear in front of a tribunal to prove their reasons were genuine and not out of cowardice.
    • If they convinced the tribunal they had to participate in non combat activities such as driving ambulances and essential war work e.g. mining. If they didn't do this they could be imprisoned and 1,500 objectors were imprisoned.
    • If they didn't convince the tribunal, they had to join the army. If they didn't they could be shot

    I think thats it for recruitment. There are also civilian casualties if you want to learn those facts:

    • Total casualties due to air raids = nearly 5,000 (I know the numbers below don't add up to this but its because I haven't mentioned all the raids etc)
    • December 1914, German battleships shelled towns such as Scarborough and Whitby killing over 100 people.
    • January 1915, first air raids by German Zeppelin airships. Dropped bombs on East Anglian towns. There were over 50 raids killing over 500 people.
    • 1917 German Gotha bombers made nearly 30 raids killing over 800 people.

    And then there's government propaganda and DORA you need to know but you can do that yourself :P Btw, I didn't just know all these facts, I did have to refer to my textbook. Hope this helps

    Votes for women pod cast
    Some skills you may need for the exam- starts from page 9.

    Link to some papers

    I will be updating my thread over the coming days and feel free to add any thing to my time line.

One government that is often seen as an example of 'reforming' by introducing positive changes that really improve peoples' lives is the Liberal government in Britain of 1906-1914. Many historians label this period the beginning of the welfare state [Welfare state: A state (or a country) where the government provides welfare benefits such as education, health care, and unemployment payment to its population free at the point of use, although paid for by general taxation. ], but why did the Liberal government introduce its reforms?

Important reforms - summary

Some governments in history seem to have implemented changes that have particularly improved people's lives. For instance, Roosevelt's New Deal in America, or the Labour government in Britain after the First World War. The dynamism and positive achievements of these governments make them look much better than the governments that came before or after them.

A study of poverty in 1901 by Seebohm Rowntree found that in a society where those who didn't work didn't eat, there were three times in people's lives when they were especially vulnerable:

  • as a young child
  • when they were old
  • when they were sick or unemployed

After 1906, the Liberal government, with Lloyd George as Chancellor of the Exchequer, introduced reforms to help these three groups:


  • In 1906 local authorities were allowed to provide free school meals.
  • The 1908 Children and Young Persons Act introduced a set of regulations that became known as the Children's Charter. This imposed severe punishments for neglecting or treating children cruelly. It was made illegal to sell cigarettes to children or send them out begging. Separate juvenile courts were set up, which sent children convicted of a crime to borstals [Borstals: In the UK, a place of detention for young male offenders. They were introduced in 1908, and are now replaced by 'young offender institutions'. ], instead of prison.

Old age

  • In 1908 pensions were introduced for the over 70s, which gave them 5s a week, or 7s 6d to a married couple. Old people cried as they collected their pensions, and said: 'God bless Lloyd George'.


  • In 1909 labour exchanges were set up to help unemployed people find work.
  • The 1911 National Insurance Act was passed. Part 1 of the act gave people the right to free medical treatment, and sick pay of 10s a week for 26 weeks in return for a payment of 4d a week. Part 2 of the Act gave people the right to unemployment pay (dole) of 7s 6d a week for 15 weeks in return for a payment of 2½d a week.

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