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Britain At The Turn Of The Century

745 words - 3 pages

Britain at the Turn of the Century


Although valuable social reform had taken place during the years
leading up to and in the early 20th Century, this period was a time of
sharp conflict between employers and workers. Reforms such as National
Insurance and Old Age Pensions could not disguise the fact that there
had been a rise in the cost of living. Wages fell behind prices, and
Britain's industrial supremacy was coming to an end, reflected by an
increase in unemployment.

Another important social issue at the time was the right for women to
vote. In 1897 a Bill to give women women the right to vote had reached
a second reading in the House of Commons, but had been 'talked out' by
one of its opponents. In 1903 Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst founded the
Women's Social and Political Union with the hope of a formal
organization being able to advance their cause. This was not however
fulfilled until well after the war, in 1928.

Poverty and Wealth:

Britains position as workshop and banker of the world was seen as
almost paradoxical to what was going on in society as the time. There
was the striking contrast between the waxing industrial wealth of the
country as a whole and the continuing poverty of the majority of its
inhabitants. It was also true that there was no general diffusion of
wealth at all comparable with its quantitative increase. The economic
condition of the farm tenants and agricultural workers grew steadily
worse, most owned no property, had no permanent homes, and were
expected to work long hours for subsistence wages, while many were on
the verge of starvation.


Great Britain was the leading commercial and industrial country, with
the value of its foreign commerce steadily rising throughout the late
19th and early 20th Centuries. Between 1890 and 1910 Britains foreign
earnings almost doubled to 1,085 million pounds sterling. London

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