National Insurance Act 1911

National Insurance Act 1911

UK Legislation
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National Insurance Act 1911

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The National Insurance Act 1911 is an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom. The Act is often regarded as one of the foundations of modern social welfare in the United Kingdom and forms part of the wider social welfare reforms of the Liberal Government of 1906-1914. The increasing influence of the Labour Party among the population had put the Liberals under pressure to enact social legislation.


Britain was not the first country to provide insured benefits. Germany had provided compulsory national insurance against sickness from 1884. After visiting Germany in 1908, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, David Lloyd George said in his 1909 Budget Speech, that the United Kingdom should aim to be "putting ourselves in this field on a level with Germany; We should not emulate them only in armaments." In 1908 David Lloyd George, the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Liberal government led by Herbert Asquith proposed the 1911 National Insurance Act. This measure gave the British working classes the first contributory system of insurance against illness and unemployment.

Sections of the Conservative party opposed the Act considering that it was not for taxpayers to pay for such benefits. Some trade unions who operated their own insurance schemes and friendly societies were also opposed. The Act was important as it removed the need for unemployed workers, who were insured under the scheme, to rely on the stigmatised social welfare provisions of the Poor Law. This...
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