Liberal Reforms Essay

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Between 1906 and 1914, the liberal government took steps in the provisions of welfare policies in a bid to help the impoverished people of Britain. These steps indicated a move away from the non-intervention policy known as ‘laissez faire’ to a more ‘collectivist’ approach. The changes which took place signalled a huge change in attitude; the poor were no longer condemned, but were accepted as unfortunate but equal citizens, whose rights had to be acknowledged. The reforms aimed to help the young, old, unemployed and sick, as it was clear that these groups were more likely to endure poverty. Winston Churchill summed the nature of the liberal welfare reforms, ‘If we see a drowning man we do not drag him to the shore. Instead we provide help to allow him to swim ashore.’ The Liberals hoped to provide some help for the deserving poor in order that they could help themselves. In 1908, the Liberals introduced the Children’s Act also known as the ‘Children’s Charter’. This act made it illegal for parents to neglect their children. The Children’s Charter aimed to protect children by banning smoking and drinking amongst those under sixteen. Stiff penalties were brought in for shops selling alcohol or tobacco to children. Children were also banned from begging. Juvenile courts were set up for those under fourteen and remand homes were established to keep child offenders out of prison while waiting for trial. If convicted children were to be sent to a corrective school rather than prison. Probation officers were appointed for the after care of young offenders. Such measures began to treat children differently, allowing those who got into trouble the possibility of a fresh start. Attitudes towards children however remained highly unchanged. Some even argued that too many rules and regulations were being imposed on people’s lives. One worker commented ‘Children’s Charter do

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