By Mike Byrne

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These studies showed conditions of overcrowding and substandard housing, malnutrition and ill health, and caused the political debate to develop and intensify. Two investigations stand out as particularly influential. These were: • Charles Booth’s Life and Labour of the People of London – a massive study published over the period 1889–1903 in several volumes. • Seebohm Rowntree’s Poverty, A Study of Town Life, which appeared in 1903. Booth argued that 30 per cent of the population of London fell below a poverty line income level of between 90 and 105 pence per week.

Reform of the House of Lords and shorter parliaments (three years maximum instead of seven), to make government more accountable. • Disestablishment of the Church of England to put it on the same legal basis as other Churches. The Liberal Party and ‘New Liberalism’ 1890–1906 | 31 • There were also references to greater democracy – ‘one man, one vote’, reform of the House of Lords, more democratic local government and payment for MPs to allow access to the House of Commons for a wider social range.

Key question The Liberal Party and ‘New Liberalism’ 1890–1906 | 33 Sir William Harcourt Harcourt was Gladstone’s Chancellor of the Exchequer and he led the Party following Rosebery’s resignation. In many ways he was the most natural successor to Gladstone. He was a veteran politician, 67 years old in 1894, and easily the most experienced of Gladstone’s colleagues. His views were very much in line with those of the great man. Harcourt was widely respected as a formidable performer in the House of Commons.

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Access to History. Britain 1890-1924 2ed by Mike Byrne


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