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Churchill And The Welfare State Essay

Economics Notes > Political Aspects of British Economics Notes

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In what ways does Churchill help to implement the welfare state in Britain?

Winston Churchill plays a decisive role in implementing the welfare state and social reform in Britain. In discussing Churchill's role, I will include social reform intended to improve working conditions and the working class's standing in a wider notion of the "welfare state". Churchill's contribution to the welfare state has mainly to do with his policies before 1945 rather than what he did in his government from 195155. Already before the First World War, Churchill took first steps in the direction of social reform. However, he may not have been the primary instigator, since other politicians were leading figures at that time. As a member of the Asquith government, he was party to the introduction of state pensions in 1908. Churchill also introduced "Trade Boards" in 1909 as the President of the Board of Trade, which established the first minimum wages in Britain in staple industries. He also prepared the sickness and unemployment bill, which became the 1911 National Insurance Act, although it would be Lloyd George who would present it to parliament later. This act constitutes the first contributory system of insurance for unemployment and sickness in Britain. Moreover, Churchill showed his deeprooted beliefs in social reform with his passionate speech about the 1908 Coal Mines Regulation Act. In addition, Churchill strengthened mining safety regulations as Home Secretary, helped to introduce collective bargaining, and attempted to introduce a Shops Bill to regulate shop workers' hours. As a member of Lloyd George's government, Churchill carried part of the responsibility of the reduction of working hours in 1919, which factually introduced the eighthour day in Britain. All these measures demonstrate the small steps in the direction of the welfare state that Churchill undertook during his early years in government, although we have to keep in mind that he was mainly a protege
of Asquith and Lloyd George at this time. Being appointed as Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1924 in the Baldwin government, Churchill continues his policy of social reform. From now on, he plays a leading role in this field, since many of the liberal politicians who pioneered the welfare state left politics after the breakup of the last liberal government in 1922. Neville Chamberlain as the Health Secretary initially planned to introduce the Widows, Orphans and Old Age Pensions Act. Churchill considered this piece of legislation as so important and was so motivated to push this through that he announces it himself in the Budget for

1925. Churchill thus took credit for this legislation, tolerated by Chamberlain, which did much to foster the development of the welfare state. In order to finance this Act, he constrains military expenditure and directs funds to domestic social policies, which created tensions with the navy as the biggest spender in the military. We can thus

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