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The People's Budget and the Welfare State

As Liberals tried to form a cabinet at the end of 1905 David Lloyd George's national standing demanded that a place be found for him in its ranks. He was appointed President of the Board of Trade. Following the sweeping Liberal victory in the general election of 1906 Lloyd George worked unflaggingly in a post which until his appointment had been fairly insignificant. In April 1908 he was given his great opportunity to put in place the many reforms he wished to see, when Asquith appointed him as Chancellor.

David Lloyd George's first task as Chancellor was to bring to the house Asquith's Pensions Bill in 1908, but it was Lloyd George's name that would be associated with it in the public mind. In the Budget of 1909, "The People's Budget", we see his own mind and values at work. So controversial were some of the measures that the civil servants of the Exchequer refused to cooperate with him.

As he delivered his speech he said that it was a war budget, designed to raise money to fight against poverty and squalor. The money would be raised by higher taxes for the rich upper class: this led to other battles, the battle to pass the Budget and the battle to reform the House of Lords. It took seventy two parliamentary days to discuss the measure in the Commons, there were 554 divisions and the Summer Recess was done away with. In the end, it was rejected by the Lords which led to an immediate general election, after which the Budget of 1909 was passed in April 1910.

After the Budget of 1909 David Lloyd George did not rest, and in 1911 he brought his National Insurance Bill before the House. It was a measure intended to establish compulsory health and unemployment insurance schemes. It attracted much opposition from those with vested interests, from some on the left, and especially from the right. One aspect of the protest was an anti-stamp licking campaign which reached its climax with a Mistresses and Maids rally at the Albert Hall. After shouting "We won't pay!" and "Taffy is a Welshman, Taffy is a thief!", the rally culminated in a speech by Lady Desart where she attacked Lloyd George violently and finished with her rallying cry, "England ... never did nor never shall lie at the proud foot of a conqueror." The measure was passed and became law. It was implemented in the following years.