The Year 1915 Illustrated/End of the Liberal Government
AFTER nine-and-a-half years of strenuous life the Liberal Government, which came into office in December, 1905, succumbed to the exigencies of the war in May last. The bright hope with which Sir Henry Campbell Bannerman formed his ministry in January, 1906, with a majority of 354 in the House of Commons to support him, seems now to belong to another age. Yet the future historian will find a great deal worthy of note in the legislation of these nine-and-a-half years. Foremost among the records of the late Government must be placed the free constitution bestowed upon the Transvaal and the Orange Free State, which bore fruit in the formation of the Union of South Africa and the election of General Botha, a one-time enemy, to the premiership of the Union. The loyalty of the new Commonwealth has stood the severest test, and thanks to General Botha and his ministers, we now see South Africa standing side by side with the other Dominions in support of the Motherland of England.
In 1907 the Territorial Forces Bill was passed into law and Mr. (now Lord) Haldane commenced his momentous Army reforms. This was followed in 1909 by the granting of the Old Age Pensions to all deserving poor over the age of seventy. The same year saw the introduction of the famous Budget of Mr. Lloyd George, which aroused such antipathy in the House of Lords that the Government was forced to go to the country. The election of January, 1910, confirmed Mr. Asquith's mandate and the Budget was passed. Another General Election took place in December of the same year, this time on the issue of the Parliament Bill. The Liberal party was again victorious and Mr. Asquith went boldly forward with the Parliament Bill and the enactment of the Insurance Act.
The year 1912 saw the passage into law of the Miners' Minimum Wage Act, and the passage through the House of Commons of the Irish Home Rule Bill and the Welsh Church Bill under the Parliament Act. In 1913 and 1914 the process was repeated and the Plural Voting Bill was advanced. The foregoing is a brief summary of the great outstanding legislative enactments of the Liberal Government. In foreign affairs the conduct of Sir Edward Grey has been distinguished before all things by a desire to maintain the peace of Europe and the welfare of the Empire. It is the united judgment of the British people that it is through no fault of Sir Edward Grey that the peoples of Europe have been dragged into the present terrible war.