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War and the transformation of British society c1903–28

Key Topic 1: The Liberals, votes for women and social reform

The activities of the women’s societies and the reaction of the authorities.
Children’s welfare measures, old age pensions.
Labour Exchanges 1909, the National Insurance Act 1911.

The political position of women in 1903




Reactions of the authorities to militancy and protest

Forced feeding

The ‘Cat and Mouse Act’

Children’s Charter (1906)

The School Meals Act (1906)

Medical Inspection, 1907.

The reasons for and importance of Old Age Pensions Act (1908).

Labour Exchanges (1909)

National Insurance Act 1911.

Key Topic 2: The part played by the British on the Western Front

The BEF and 1914.
Britain’s contribution to the Western Front 1915–17.
The end of the war.

The despatch of the BEF

The part played in the events of 1914

The failure of the Schlieffen Plan

The race for the sea

Setting up of the trench system.

The nature of trench warfare

Haig and the Battle of the Somme

The development and importance of new weapons



The creeping barrage.

Britain’s part in the events of 1918

Ludendorff’s offensives

The drive to victory.

Key Topic 3: The home front and social change

DORA, censorship and propaganda.
Recruitment and rationing.
The part played by women.

The importance of censorship

Examples of propaganda

The various methods of recruitment: 1914–16

The reasons for, and impact of, conscription: 1916–18

Conscientious objectors.


The effects of submarine warfare on Britain

Measures brought in by the Government to alleviate the threat of U-Boats.

Key Topic 4: Economic and social change 1918–28

The changing role of women 1918–28.
Industrial unrest 1918–27.
The General Strike of 1926.

Extension of the franchise

The changes in women’s work and social changes.

Trade union membership

Industrial militancy in the years 1918–20

The long-term and immediate problems of the coal industry

Black Friday (1921)

Red Friday (1925)

The Samuel Commission (March 1926).

Government preparations and measures to deal with the General Strike

The reasons why the TUC called off the General strike

Trades Disputes Act of 1927.

Labour Exchanges and National Insurance

Labour Exchanges

Labour Exchanges were established in 1909. They were designed to act as places where unemployed workers could find jobs. This marked a change from the previous system where the workers had to try and find employment themselves, with no help from the state. Some unins opposed the introduction of the Labour Exchanges as they saw it as a threat to their collective bargaining powers.

National Insurance

National Insurance is designed to cover sick pay and unemployment benefits. When in work each worker was to pay a small weekly national insurance contribution. Their employers also made a contribution, as did the government.


Source: Winston Churchill outlining the way in which Labour Exchanges would be introduced.

The number and allocation of Labour Exchanges of the various grades to be established is not yet finally decided, but so far as can be foreseen at present the number of Class A Exchanges will be from 30 to 35, and of Class B Exchanges somewhat larger. Ultimately there will also be a considerable number of smaller Exchanges, sub-offices, and waiting rooms. As a general rule towns with over 100,000 inhabitants will have a Class A Exchange.

Source: Halifax Courier reporting the opening of the Halifax Labour Exchange

It was a busy first morning indeed. By 2pm more than 250 unemployed workers had called, the great majority men. The manager and his able staff courteously received the callers and did all they could to assist them.

"The whole proceedings are perfectly businesslike. People march up to the counter, fill in registration forms and so forth, and this continued throughout the day.





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