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  August 1914

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 Lanarkshire’s War

Scotland in 1914 was a very different country from the Scotland we know today. You could buy a Ford car for £150. Driving licenses had only existed for ten years and it was just a mere registration process with no competency standards or testing required. If you could afford a car, you were allowed to drive it.

Henry Asquith was the British Prime Minister in a Liberal party Government, his party were responsible for the famed 'liberal welfare reforms' which greatly improved social conditions in Britain for the working man. For the first time, higher earning individuals were taxed more in order to fund social services for the less fortunate. Many types of jobs also saw the introduction of a minimum wage.

The recently passed National Insurance Act for the first time ever guaranteed workers sick pay and unemployment benefits; these were championed by David Lloyd George who was Chancellor of the Exchequer and were based on a similar scheme in place in Germany. Children were given free school meals for the first time in order to improve the nation’s very poor nutrition. Housing standards in the country were deemed 'terrible' by a national tuberculosis (TB) charity (in the past the disease was commonly known as 'Consumption'), and the vast majority of families were living in rented accommodation with only one tenth of homes being owner occupied.

The state of housing was one of the main issues in the so-called 'Red Clydeside' and '40 hour' protest movements in 1919, which saw 90,000 protestors occupy George Square in Glasgow on 31 January that year. The Riot Act was read by police and the military and protesters were confronted by tanks in the heart of Glasgow.

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