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Liberal Reform 1906-1914

             The huge scale of the Liberal party's victory in the 1906 general election guaranteed many new faces among the ranks of Liberal MPs, in favour of change in the field of social welfare. Between the years 1906 and 1914, the Liberals took steps to improve the health standards and the living and working conditions of the lower class. The main people which the new legislation targeted were working class under risk of poverty due to sickness or unemployment, their children, and old age pensioners. The effectiveness of Liberal rule on these matters is not clear, as much of the legislation introduced to solve poverty problems, can be argued to be unsuccessful at what it was intended to achieve.
             The first task undertaken by the new Liberal government was the welfare of children. The issue of malnourished children had increasingly surfaced since the extension of rate aid to all schools and creation of Local Education Authorities in 1902, so the issue of children too hungry or generally debilitated was well documented by 1906. A report from the Committee on Physical Deterioration noted inadequate feeding-"It is the height of cruelty to subject half starved children to the process of education". To solve this problem the government introduced the Education Act of 1906. Local education authorities were enable to provide school meals for destitute children by levying an additional rate of halfpenny in the pound. Although the Act was seen as progressive, the fact that it was not made compulsory argues if it was effective enough. By 1911, less than a third of all education authorities were using rates to support school meal provision and it had taken until 1914 for the Board of Education to make such provision compulsory.
             Meanwhile, in 1907, the Education Act made medical inspections for children compulsory. Under this Act, the Board of Education was able to specify that at least three inspections must take place during a child's school years.

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