Liberal Reform

Topics: Liberalism, Unemployment, Poverty Pages: 6 (1931 words) Published: December 9, 2012
Liberal Government introduce social reforms in the early twentieth century

In the late 19th century the British government practiced the principle of laissez-faire. Laissez faire means the business market are free from tariffs, government subsidies and enforced monopolies [2]. Under the principle of Laissez faire, government only provides simple maintenance of law and order, protect property rights against theft and aggression with regulations [3]. Individuals were responsible for their own decisions, to protect and improve their own lives and welfare.[1] After the general election in 1906, the Liberal welfare reform was introduced between 1906 to 1914, changing the attitude and policies towards the poverty. The liberal reforms for children are, free school meals, school medical inspections, Children ‘s charter act and school clinic. The old age pensions act, labour exchange for the unemployed and national insurance for workers were also carried out eventually within this period of time.[1] The attitude towards the working class shifted from individuality to a more aggregate way .The Liberal reforms changed the economy, politic and social circumstances[1] ,and lead Britain to a more well structuralized and strong country. The reasons of the reforms were, changes in attitude, the Boer War, social reform, political changes and the fear of being overtaken. [4]

The ideology of Laissez faire had assumed how a society should work , free trade, freedom of making a decision in the late 19th century before the liberal social reforms being introduce. The role of government was to make sure and guarantee the freedom of the citizens and market. They provided military forces to regulate the property rights and exchange between parties.[4] The principle idea is to allow citizens from greatest possible freedom. The central idea of this ideology was based on self-help, government was not responsible for the poverty and hardship for their citizens[1] Instead the citizens should strive for themselves to improve their own life and welfare. If the self-help was failed, they could seek for a help from charity and finally the state under the Poor law. The poor law was under strict constraints and was designed to restrict the poor and vulnerable to help themselves rather than living under the harsh regime and loss of dignity of the workhouse. Later on in the earlier 20th century, laissez faire could no longer direct and improve the society efficiently . And being questioned against the new social reforms and revolution.[1]

In the 1800’s,people believed that the reasons why poverty was caused were because the working classes were lazy and because of their moral weaknesses, such as idleness, drunkenness. This attitude towards the working class citizen started to change in the early 1900’s, people began to realized this maybe a misunderstanding on the poverty problem. This change in belief was further supported by two social survey carried out by Charles Booth (published1889-1903) and Seebohm Rowntree (published 1901).[3] Booth carried out his research into the poverty living conditions and in London, whereas Rowntree done his investigation into the poverty in York. These results provided clear evidence and supporting argument towards the laissez faire views on the poverty problem, that individual should be responsible for their own misfortune. And how important the morality for the poor should be concern . The publish of these two social surveys not only changed the popular belief of poverty but also make them recognised how serious the poor and healthy problem were. It motivated the government to find solutions for the problems and afterwards introduced the social welfare reforms [5]. Booth and Roentree’s survey were mainly focused on the extent and the causations of poverty among British cities, though their survey were not carried out into the same region, their findings agreed on two key factors: up to 30% of the population of the...
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