First published in 1978, this book gathers an extensive range of documents which illuminate the complex and important process by which the State in Britain has taken on increased responsibility for the health and welfare of its citizens. It uses extracts from a variety of sources, including reports, debates, speeches, articles and reviews, and commentary from leading figures of the period, such as Disraeli, Dickens, Edwin Chadwick and Churchill.

The book begins with a discussion of the notion of an ‘age of laissez-faire’ in the mid-nineteenth century, and an examination of the extent to which the Liberal government embarked on a conscious policy of ‘welfarism’ between 1906 and 1914. The extracts themselves cover the entire field of social policy, including factory legislation, public health, housing, education, poverty, pensions and unemployment.

This book will be of interest to those studying the history of social welfare and social policy.

chapter |18 pages


part One|104 pages

State intervention: the tempering of individualism c. 1830–c. 1870

chapter 1a|1 pages

The duties of government

chapter 1b|1 pages

The limits of laissez-faire

chapter 2|1 pages

The critics of laissez-faire

chapter 2c|1 pages

The nemesis of laissez-faire

chapter 3|1 pages

Factory legislation

chapter 3e|3 pages

Debates on the factory question

chapter 3f|1 pages

The 1847 Factory Act

chapter 3g|1 pages

The duties of factory inspectors

chapter 4|2 pages

Poverty and the new poor law

chapter 4b|1 pages

The 1834 Poor Law Report

chapter 4d|1 pages

The Poor Law Commission justifies itself

chapter 4g|1 pages

‘Less eligibility’ in action

chapter 5|2 pages

Public health

chapter 5a|2 pages

The causes of preventable disease

chapter 5e|1 pages

Local initiative in public health

chapter 5h|1 pages

The Alkali Act, 1863

chapter 5i|2 pages

The Sanitary Act, 1866

chapter 6|2 pages


chapter 6g|1 pages

Robert Lowe defends the Revised Code

chapter 6h|2 pages

An influential attack on the Revised Code

chapter 6j|2 pages

The Elementary Education Act, 1870

chapter 7|2 pages

Aspects of self-help

chapter 7a|1 pages

The principles of friendly societies

chapter 7b|1 pages

Savings banks

chapter 7d|1 pages


chapter 8b|1 pages

Civil service reform welcomed

chapter 8h|2 pages

The growth of government quantified

part Two|88 pages

The viability of collectivism, 1870–95

chapter 9|1 pages

The growing responsibilities of the State

chapter 9a|1 pages

The characteristic of a free people

chapter 9c|2 pages

The growth of government invites slavery

chapter 9d|1 pages

The State as a social engineer

chapter 9f|1 pages

Gladstone on the spirit of self-reliance

chapter 10|2 pages

Local government reforms

chapter 10c|1 pages

Local government rationalized

chapter 10f|2 pages

The London County Council pioneers in action

chapter 11|2 pages

Poverty, poor law and public health

chapter 11b|1 pages

The advent of compulsory vaccination

chapter 11c|1 pages

Public health legislation unified

chapter 11d|1 pages

Poverty results from individual failings

chapter 11g|3 pages

Poverty subject to scientific examination

chapter 12|2 pages

Pensions and unemployment

chapter 12a|1 pages

A pioneer pensions proposal

chapter 12d|1 pages

State pensions offend the friendly societies

chapter 12e|1 pages

A Royal Commission rejects old age pensions

chapter 12f|2 pages

The Chamberlain Circular on unemployment

chapter 12g|1 pages

The establishment of the Labour Department

chapter 12h|1 pages

Labour exchanges advocated

chapter 13|2 pages


chapter 13a|2 pages

Teaching the poor the virtues of a good home

chapter 13b|1 pages

The genesis of the Artisans Dwelling Act

chapter 13d|1 pages

Private initiative must find a solution

chapter 14|2 pages


chapter 14a|1 pages

‘Extinguishing the pauper spirit’

chapter 14c|2 pages

The advent of compulsory education

chapter 14d|1 pages

School inspection at the grass roots

chapter 14f|1 pages

Fears over free elementary education

chapter 15|1 pages

Land Reform

chapter 15a|2 pages

The single-tax attack on landlords

chapter 15c|1 pages

Land nationalization plans attacked

chapter 15d|1 pages

Giving the land to the people who work it

chapter 16|2 pages

Self-help and charity

chapter 16c|1 pages

Charles Loch’s charitable principles

part Three|85 pages

The birth-pangs of welfarism, 1895–1914

chapter 17|1 pages

Collectivist perspectives

chapter 17a|1 pages

The necessity for public ownership

chapter 17b|1 pages

The growing collectivist impulse

chapter 17d|1 pages

A new role for the State in modern society

chapter 17g|2 pages

‘The Reality of Social Progress’

chapter 18|1 pages

The concept of national efficiency

chapter 18a|1 pages

A woeful workforce

chapter 18b|1 pages

Inadequate recruits to defend the nation

chapter 18c|1 pages

Conscription as an ameliorating factor

chapter 18d|2 pages

Generalized physical degeneracy denied

chapter 19|1 pages

A fairer State: redistributive taxation

chapter 19a|2 pages

Improved services benefit all classes

chapter 19d|1 pages

Lloyd George introduces supertax

chapter 19e|2 pages

Socialist reaction to the people’s Budget

chapter 20|2 pages

Education and children

chapter 20c|1 pages

A defence of the 1902 Education Act

chapter 20d|1 pages

The 1902 proposals condemned

chapter 20f|1 pages

The Children’s Charter explained

chapter 21|1 pages

Housing and land reform

chapter 21a|2 pages

Suburban drift

chapter 21d|1 pages

The Housing and Town Planning Act 1909

chapter 21e|1 pages

The failures of the private enterprise

chapter 21f|2 pages

Liberal land reform proposals

chapter 22|2 pages

Poverty, poor law and public health

chapter 22a|2 pages

Rowntree’s classifications of poverty

chapter 22c|1 pages

Improving dietary standards in the workhouse

chapter 22e|1 pages

Two medical views on high infant mortality

chapter 22f|2 pages

The Poor Law Majority Report

chapter 22g|3 pages

The Poor Law Minority Report

chapter 23b|1 pages

The first State pensions are collected

chapter 23c|1 pages

The Webbs breakfast with Lloyd George

chapter 23e|1 pages

Socialist objections to national insurance

chapter 23g|3 pages

Medical hostility to the scheme

chapter 24b|1 pages

A Liberal view of public works programmes

chapter 24d|1 pages

Report of the Select Committee on Home Work

chapter 24e|1 pages

Opposition to legislation on sweating

chapter 24h|1 pages

Minimum wage proposals