Founding the welfare state

A hundred years ago, in 1908, H. H. Asquith’s government introduced the Old Age Pensions Bill. This was just the beginning of a comprehensive Liberal programme of social reform, including national insurance, minimum wages, labour exchanges and compulsory school meals, among much else. Did this programme really represent a decisive break with nineteenth-century notions of a minimal state, or was it simply an attempt to counter the challenge of the emerging Labour movement? Debate the issue in this centenary year of the Pensions Act.

Speakers: Dr Ian Packer, Lincoln University; author of ‘Liberal Government and Politics, 1905-15’, and Joe Harris, General Secretary of the National Pensioners Convention. Chair: Lady Jane Bonham Carter, Asquith’s great-granddaughter.

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