The Liberal Reforms

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How did the Liberal Social Reforms of 1906-1914 improve the lives of the British people? At the beginning of the twentieth century many British people were living in poverty. It could be argued that this was very much a result of the policy of the nineteenth century governments. They believed in a ’Lassie-faire’ approach in which people were responsible for themselves. The Liberal government came to power in 1906 and began to change this. They introduced a number of reforms to improve peoples lives. This included reform to deal with the young, the elderly, the sick, the unemployed and workers. Following the difficulty in recruiting soldiers for the Boer war and also in the hope of improving national efficiency, the liberals introduced a number of reforms to improve the lives of the young. The needs of children were the main priority, they were the future. In 1908 they passed an act to ensure children were no longer neglected by their parents. Smoking and driving under the age of sixteen was also made a criminal offence. In addition child offenders would no longer go to prison but instead a borstal. It had not gone unnoticed by teachers that children from poorer backgrounds had less energy in the classroom. As a result , in 1906 local authorities could provide school meals. These were either free or parents would pay a small charge. The liberals wished to extend school meals to all areas. By the education(provision of meals) act of 1906, local education authorities could either make use of existing schemes or provide the meals themselves. Many children did not have regular meals, in 1914 150,000 children received a free school meal on Saturday’s and during the holidays. Undernourishment was only a small factor of the general health problem amongst children. I t could be argued, however, that this did little to improve the lives of the young. By 1912 less
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