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trol over those who made laws aU'ecting them; they were
subject to taxation williout rej)resentation. At the same
time women were steadily having their minds broadened
by more education than women had ever had before, and
they were develo[)ing a greater sense of responsibility,
stronger feeling of individuality, and greater sense of
their dignity and power. It seemed to them that the
doctrines established by their forefathers, and proclaimed
so grandly during the French Revolution, that all men
were equal and that government depended on the consent
of the governed, that these doctrines applied to women as
well as to men.

Both in England and the United States feminist re-
formers got some ridicule but not much attention. Most
of the women, conservative and timid, had no interest in
the movement, and most men were opposed to it because
it ran counter to a vast mass of old custom and established
ideas. But in 1866 John Stuart INIill moved in the House
of Commons to include women in the provisions of the
bill then pending to extend the franchise. He declared
that women's interests were closely connected with men's,
and that unless men helped them to rise, they would pull
men down to a lower condition. His proposal was easily
defeated, but thereafter almost every year a bill was pro-
posed to allow women to vote.

To advocates the progress of the movement often seemed
slow, but actually it was far more rapid than any previous
movement to extend the suffrage to men. It was not al-
ways remembered that until the beginning of the nine-
teenth century the franchise, if held at all, was confined
almost entirely to a few men of the upper classes. Act-
ually after a while women in England were allowed to vote
and be voted for in local elections, and it was generally
believed that they had a higher position than the women
of any other country except, probably, the United States.



Changes
affecting
women



The

women's
suffrage
movement



Progress of
the move-
ment




10. THE BRITISH ISLES
244



DEMOCRATIC BRITAIN 245

One by one the old legul inequalities were abolished, until
scarcely any renuiined, and women's economic opjior-
tunities became constantly belter. Nevertheless, they
were still subject to some discriminations, and an ever-
increasing numlKT of them, who desired complete equality
with men, believed that this could never be attained,
and that women would never be able to take their proper
share of the duties of the commonwealth until they were
admitted to vote for memljcrs of parliament upon the
same conditions as men.

The movement continued to make slow but certain The
progress, though the majority of the people, both men and ^" ragettes
women, continued to be against it. Finally, about 1905,
a small number of more radical women, under the leader-
ship of Mrs. Emmeline Pankhurst, tiring at impediments
and delay, lack of public interest and attention, under-
took to procure votes for women by force and compulsion,
which, they said, had been the method that men had
employed. Then for a few years was carried on a cam-
paign ridiculous and alarming. "Wild women," as they
were called, screamed and interrupted public meetings,
harassed public officials, interfered with the carrying
on of the government in which they had no part, and
perpetrated all sorts of petty violence and outrage. When
arrested and imprisoned they tried the "hunger strike,"
which had previously been employed by political prisoners
in Russia, starving themselves, so that the government,
which desired that no woman should be killed in this
contest, invariably released them. By 1914 these suffra-
gettes had become so great a menace and nuisance that
some foreigners believed Englishmen to be decadent and
not capable of deahng with troublesome questions. The
suffragettes did attract a great deal of attention for their
cause, but they also aroused much hostility and strong
dislike. They had set the dangerous precedent of women
employing force, when the whole tendency of civilization



246



EUROPE SINCE 1870



Extension
of the
franchise,
1918



Changes in
representa-
tion sug-
gested



had been for force not to be employed against women.
Moreover, they afforded one of the first conspicuous
examples of a procedure — since not uncommon — of an or-
ganized minority boldly making itself intolerable so as to
compel the yielding of the things which it wanted. But
when the war began in 1914 they immediately ceased
their campaign, and rallied to the support of the country.
During the contest the women of Great Britain performed
indispensable and tremendous service, and it was generally
recognized that the suJffrage should be given to them if they
desired it.

The great expansion of democratic feeling in Enghsh-
speaking countries during the war now led to a further
extension of the suflFrage to men, and at the same time
many women were also admitted. In 1918 all men over
twenty-one, with fixed residence or business premises for
six months, and all women already entitled to vote in
local elections and women whose husbands were so en-
titled, were given the parliamentary franchise. The
electorate was thus increased by 2,000,000 men and
6,000,000 women, so that now one out of every three of
the entire population could vote, thus extending the
suffrage to a larger portion of the population than had
been done in any great country before. The government
of the United Kingdom had been put into the hands of its
people about as far as was possible under the existing
system; and the people had more complete control and
were able to make their wishes felt more immediately and
directly than in any other great nation in the world. It
was said now by some that further reform must lie, not so
much in the direction of extending the suffrage as in so
changing the system that industries and groups, rather
than districts, should be represented. Thus, it was be-
lieved, the people might, perhaps, get more complete
economic control as well as control of political matters.
But opponents protested that such an arrangement would



DEMOCRATIC BRITAIN'



247



merely be a reversion to a more primitive and less good
system, tried and discarded in the past.

During the period 1867-1918 all sorts of reforms were
carried forward for the purpose of making the body of the
people able to share in their government and also for the
bettering of their condition. In 18()7 Robert Lowe had
said: "We must now educate our masters." This was
undertaken by the Liberals who came into power under
Gladstone almost immediately after Disraeli had carried
the second Electoral Reform Law. A great change was
made in 1870. Down to this time English education, except
for a very few of the wealthy, was far behind what existed
in Germany or the United States. There were the two
old universities of Oxford and Cambridge, unrivalled in
beauty and ancient charm, but giving only the culture
which befitted the children of the ruling classes. Beneath
them were certain "public schools" like Eton and Rugby,
where also sons of the aristocrats might receive splendid
teaching of the humanities and fine training in the develop-
ment of character. But this was by far the best part of
a system which had been devised principally for the upper
classes. In 1870 there were thought to be about 4,000,000
children of school age, of whom only half attended any
school. Of these 2,000,000, half attended schools poorly
organized and often not well conducted. The rest went
to schools under government inspection and partly sup-
ported by the government but managed by the Church
of England, so that in England, as in France and in Spain,
a considerable part of the education remained in the hands
of the Church. Several small reforms had already been
made, but it was evident that a great deal was yet to be
done. There was much difference of opinion, as there
was in similar instances in most European countries.
Some believed that it was well for religious teaching to be
given; others that education ought to be entirely without
religious influence, and compulsory and free. The Edu-



Improve-
ment of
education



Education of
the children
in 1870



248



EUROPE SINCE 1870



Reform : the
Education
Act of 1870



Social and

economic

reforms



cation Act of 1870 was a compromise, as has usually been
the case in England. Existing voluntary schools doing
good work were to be retained and get more assistance from
the government, and they might continue their religious
instruction. Elsewhere "board schools" were to be
established, supported by the government, by the local
rates, and partly by fees paid by the parents of the children
attending. In them no religious denominational instruc-
tion was to be allowed. This reform by no means brought
the educational system of Great Britain up to the stand-
ards of Switzerland and the German Empire; it did not
make education entirely free and compulsory, and it left
it partly under denominational control. None the less,
it greatly bettered conditions and to a considerable extent
provided education free of cost to the children. Before
the end of the century four fifths of the children went to
school. The work was carried far forward in 1918 by one
of the great reforms of the period of the war, when a law
was passed providing that all children between five and
fourteen years must go to school, and providing that the
expense of education should be divided equally between
the central government and the local authorities.

The admission of the lower classes to the electorate
and to a share in the government in 1867 and 1884 was
not followed by an overturning of the government, such
as people in the upper classes had feared, nor by any ex-
ceedingly radical demands. Nevertheless, as in the earlier
part of the century, a whole series of reforms was gradually
carried out, the two parties vying with each other in mak-
ing the changes. The Liberals believed that they ought
to be made; the Conservatives considered them inevitable
and believed it better for the government to grant them
than for the mass of the people to compel them. Some
of the changes had to do with taking away privileges from
particular classes. In 1870 the civil service was reformed.
Next year the University Tests Act practically completed



DEMOCRATIC BRITAIN



249



the removal of tlic religious tests, wliicli before liad re-
stricted the privileges of the great universities mostly to
members of the Church of England. Another group had
to do with bettering economic conditions and protecting
labor. In the period 1878-1901 factory legislation was
extended and simplified; and during the same time laws
were passed to regulate better the conditions in the mines.
The state socialism of Bismarck had put the German Em-
pire ahead of other countries for a while in the improve-
ment of social and economic conditions, but similar work
was undertaken also in the United Kingdom when the
Liberal Party came into power under Sir Henry Campbell-
Bannerman, Mr. Asquith, and IVIr. Lloyd George in 1905.
In the course of the years immediately following a Work-
ingmen's Compensation Act (1906) made employers liable
to pay compensation to employees injured by accident.
An Old Age Pension Act (1909) provided that every per-
son over seventy years of age with an income of less than
£31 10s. should receive a pension from the State. Long
effort had been needed to secure this law, since while its
advocates asserted that it would make happier the last
years of deserving unfortunates, opponents declared that
all such legislation was ruinous since it tended to paup-
erize people, encouraging them to rely on assistance from
the State rather than on their own efforts. In 1911 was
passed a National Insurance Act whicli provided insurance
for sickness and loss of employment, the funds to be sub-
scribed generally, though not always, by the employees,
and by the employers and the State.

Beginning with 1824 a series of statutes, especially the
statute of 1871, gradually legalized the trade unions,
which workingmen had already formed for protection and
advancement of their interests, and in order to raise their
wages, but which the State long continued to oppose. In
1901, it is true, the House of Lords declared, in the Tuff
Vale Case, that members of trade unions were liable



Regulation
of industry
anJ labor



Trade
unions



250 EUROPE SINCE 1870

The Taff singly and collectively for the acts of their union. This

Vale Case ^.^^g merely corporate responsibility added to the corporate
privileges which unions had already acquired; but it was
felt by many that workingmen's unions were so much
weaker than the powerful employers, and so much more in
need of assistance, that they needed special protection.
Therefore in 1906 the Trades Disputes Act gave immunity
to trade-union funds. Actually, however, trade unions
were becoming exceedingly powerful in Great Britain.
More and more they were able to deal as equals or superiors
with the employers, and cause the government itself to heed
their wishes. Memories of long oppression and tyranny
on the part of capitalists and employers made many
leaders of the workingmen regard all employers with dis-
like and suspicion; and gradually they adopted socialist
ideas and began to hope that a day might come when
capitalism and middle-class employers would be done
away with completely. Numerous strikes were called, it
sometimes seemed, more for the purpose of harassing the
employers than anything else. Particularly did the doc-
trine spread among British workingmen that they were
made to work too many hours for the benefit of employers,
that thus numerous people could find no work to do, and
that only if hours were reduced and production restrained
would there be work enough for them all.
The Labor As Britain became a completely industriahzed country

Party w\\h its artisans composing so great a portion of the

people, leaders aspired to found a Labor Party, to
take control of the government some day for organized
labor, which would then be able to reconstruct the State.
In 1893 an Independent Labor Party was founded, which
proposed to have the government bring about an eight-
hour day of labor, collective ownership, and State control
of railways, shipping, and banks. Most of the British
laborers were not yet ready to accept socialistic doctrines,
and they did not give this party their support. In 1906



DEMOCRATIC BRITAIN



251



another Labor Party was formed. It became one of the
smaller groups in the House of Commons, with power
increasing as time went on, and its advocates expecting
it to be the dominant party in the future.

Labor disputes became constantly more bitter and
labor leaders more aggressive in the years just before the
war. The wiser of the leaders desired nothing more than
the real improvement of laboring peoj)le; but it was often
believed that the numerous harassing strikes and refusal to
work more than a certain amount were seriously hindering
production and putting Britain behind in industrial com-
petition with Germany and the United States. During
the Great War British labor gave splendid response to the
needs of the country, the unions consenting to put aside
the rules which they had made for their protection. But
it was very evident that they expected their reward to
come after their country had triumphed. Some of them
declared that then the State must take over the mines and
the railways and other great instruments and sources of
production to be used for the people themselves, and that
much must be done by the government to give the work-
ers a larger share in the goods of the State. In 1917 the
British Labor Committee issued a Report in which it de-
clared that there must be democratic control of all the
machinery of the State, and that the system of private
capitalists must yield to common ovMiersliip of land and
capital by the people. At the end of the struggle the pow-
erful "Triple Alliance" of miners, transport workers, and
railwaymen was strengthened, and the organized laborers
of the country drew up in powerful array threatening to
enforce their wishes by "direct action" of paralyzing
strikes. By this time it seemed that the trade unions in
Great Britain, as in some other countries, were no longer
struggling so much for the protection of themselves as to
enforce the special interests of their particular class.

Social betterment in the United Kingdom had lagged



Labor
powerful
and aggres-
sive



Report of
the British
Labor Com-
mittee



252



EUROPE SINCE 1870



Wealth and
poverty in
Great
Britain



The land
owned by
a few
aristocrats



far behind the wishes of enhghtened leaders hke Mr.
Lloyd George, and the desires of the sociahst and radical
teachers. The condition of a great part of the people
seemed far less good than that of the Germans, protected
by their vigorous and paternal government, or of the in-
habitants of the United States and some of the British
dominions, where new lands were being opened up and
great natural resources made use of. The evils of in-
dustrialism had by no means yet disappeared. For its
size Britain was the wealthiest country in the world, but
tliis wealth was largely concentrated in the hands of a few.
It was estimated that half of the national income went to
12 per cent, of the population, that all the rest of the peo-
ple were poor, and that in some communities a third of
them were always on the verge of starvation. Before
1914 travellers were struck by the appalling misery of the
slums of Glasgow and the dreadful poverty of wide areas
about the Whitechapel district in London. To some
extent it was against such conditions that the British
trade unions were strugghng; and their ignorant, ob-
stinate, and arbitrary methods were often to be explained
and excused because of the long-standing and terrible evils
which they confronted.

Most of the land had long since come into the possession
of a few great owners. In England two thirds of the soil
was owned by 10,000 persons, and almost all of Scotland
by 1,700 persons; many of the large estates being en-
tailed, so that they could not easily be alienated or divided,
and so that usually they passed intact from one generation
to another. To a considerable extent Britain was a
country of beautiful parks and estates, with picturesque
old villages, delightful to the tourist's eye, though often
antiquated, unsanitary, and not sufficient for the needs
of the rural population. The agricultural laborers were
crowded off the land, or else entirely at the mercy of
powerful landowners. At the other extreme were the



DEMOCRATIC BRITAIN



253



great landed proprietors, with large fortunes and exten-
sive investments, taxed liglitly on their lands, wealthy,
powerful, constituting — far more than in PVance and as
much as in Germany — an aristocratic caste above the
other inhabitants. They completely dominated fashion-
able and social life; they filled many of the imi>ortant
places in the government; and some of them composed
the House of Lords. Generally they had been wise and
careful, and had contributed not a little to the welfare
of the country; and it was partly for these reasons that
they had been able to retain so much of their position
and their power. But many Englishmen had long thought
it a misfortune that their agriculture should so far decline
and their rural population diminish; and there had long
been agitation, which increased during the war, for the
government in some way to compel the breaking up of
the great estates and to settle part of the population upon
them.

It was partly the cost of the social legislation, which was
sought and which was being carried through, that led to
one of the greatest revolutions in British government for
generations. This was the virtual taking away of the
power of the House of Lords by the Parliament Act of
1911. More money was needed by the government,
and Mr. Lloyd George, chancellor of the exchequer, now
proposed to increase the budget partly by increased in-
come taxes and also by heavy taxation on the unearned
increment of land values, that is, where the value of un-
occupied or unimproved land was increased not through
anything done by the owner but by the mere increase
in population or surrounding values. Thus, he proposed
to get the larger amounts of money needed by higher
taxes on the possessions of the wealth}'; but his scheme was
denounced as striking at the very security' of property;
and when the provision passed the House of Commons at
the end of 1909 it was at once rejected by the Lords.



The nobility
in Britain



The House
of Lords
and the
budget



254



EUROPE SINCE 1870



The House
of Lords
and the
House of
Commons



Creation of
new peers



^Mien parliament was now dissolved and a new election
held the issue before the country was the "veto power" of
the Upper House. Parliament in the beginning had been
an assembly of estates, as the States General continued
to be in France, which after a while developed into a body
of two houses. Its principal functions were advisory
and judicial, and it long continued to be known as the
" High Court of Parhament." In course of time, however,
the principal business of parliament came to be the
passing of legislation and the appropriation of money.
In the passing of bills it was necessary that both
houses give their consent, nor could a bill become law if
either the Lords or the Commons refused. During the
eighteenth century the principle was equally well estab-
lished that bills for the appropriation of money were to
originate in the Commons and not to be altered by the
Lords. In other respects, however, the House of Lords
continued to have the veto power and used it not infre-
quently. On several important occasions there had been
bitter disputes between the two Houses, and in two mem-
orable instances the government had employed a particular
device to overcome the opposition of the Lords. In
1711 the government wished to have the approval of par-
hament for the Treaty of Utrecht which had just been
negotiated. It was easy to get such approval from the
Commons, but there was a majority opposing in the
Lords. Thereupon Queen Anne announced the creation
of twelve new peers, whose coming into the House of Lords
made a majority favorable to the measure, which was then
approved. Similarly in 1830 and 1831 the Lords vetoed
the bill for electoral reform, which the Commons had
passed, and which a majority of the people wanted. There
was no ordinary way by which this opposition could be
removed, since the Lords held their seats by hereditary
title, but again the government made ready to create a
large number of Whig peers who would ensure the passage



ment Law of
1911



DEMOCRATIC BRITAIN 255

of the bill. Under this threat the Lords jdelded, and the
Reform Bill of 1832 became law. Now in 1910, after the
Lords had rejected the Finance Bill, parliament was dis-
solved and elections held on the issue of abolishing the veto
power of the Lords. The Liberals won and brought for-
ward such a bill, which the Lords rejected. Again parlia-
ment was dissolved and the issue bitterly contested in
general elections, and again the Liberals triumphed.
Early in 1911 it was announced that a sufficient number
of new peers would be created to carry tJie bill. Then
the House of Lords yielded and the bill was enacted into
law.

; This Parhament Law of 1911 pro\T[ded that the Lords The Parlia-
should have no power whatever to reject any money bill,
and that any other measure passing the Commons in three
successive sessions within a period of not less tJian two
years should become law despite the Lords' veto. Thus
the constitution of parliament was fundamentally altered.
For a long time the Lords had been more powerful and
important than the Commons, but since the eighteenth
century the Commons had been getting an ascendancy
greater and greater. None the less, the Lords might still
oppose and successfully obstruct. Now substantially
this power was taken away from them, and only that
part of parliament which was elected by the people re-
mained w^ith great influence in the State. According
to the law the king still possessed the right to veto a bill;
but no sovereign had done this since 1707, and actually
this prerogative had been completely lost. It should be The Peerage
said that in 1719 a bill had nearlj^ passed parliament by Bill of 1719



Online LibraryEdward Raymond TurnerEurope since 1870 → online text (page 21 of 49)