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Britain – The Liberal Reforms, 1906-14

3. Working People

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the Liberal reforms that were aimed at people in work, focusing in particular on: (i) the political controversy surrounding the provision of grown men and women with welfare support – shouldn't they be able to look after themselves?; (ii) the influence of the recently-founded Labour Party in promoting the rights of working people; (iii) the provisions of the Workmen's Compensation Act 1906; (iv) the creation of Labour Exchanges (later known as Employment Exchanges); (v) the provisions of the Coal Mines Regulation Act 1908, the Shops Act 1911, and the Trade Boards Act 1909; (vi) the extent to which working conditions and wage controls were already in place before the Liberal reforms; (vii) the importance the Taff Vale and Osborne decisions, which curtailed the power of the trade union, and their reversal in this period; (viii) the National Insurance Act 1911: its provisions, its scale and its limitations; and (ix) the scale, scope and success of the Liberal reforms for working people.


In this course, Professor Matthew Cole (University of Birmingham) thinks about the series of acts of social legislation passed by the Liberal government between 1906-14, known collectively as the Liberal reforms. In the first module, we think about the aims of the reforms and their impact. In the second and third modules, we think about the reforms aims at children and people of working age, respectively, before turning in the fourth module to the introduction of the state pension in 1908.


Matthew Cole is Teaching Fellow in the Department of History at the University of Birmingham. He is a historian of modern Britain with a particular interest in twentieth century constitutional and party politics, and local history.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Cole, M. (2021, March 18). Britain – The Liberal Reforms, 1906-14 - Working People [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Cole, M. "Britain – The Liberal Reforms, 1906-14 – Working People." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 18 Mar 2021,