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The Passing Of The 1832 Reform Act

1025 words - 5 pages

The Passing of the 1832 Reform Act

During the early part of the 19th Century reform was placed low on the
political agenda. This was perhaps due to the Napoleonic Wars with
France which showed people the damaging effects war could have on the
country. However, in 1819 the arguments concerning the reformation of
parliament came back into the public's conscious. The growing role of
the media acted as a new method of informing the public of their
rights and the need for action. People were also being made aware
through public meetings held by radical MP's that favoured reform. It
is therefore not hard to see why in 1832 the Great Reform Act was
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These, as a
result, became know as 'rotten boroughs' because they were giving a
true representation of the people of England. It was the large,
industrial towns that needed this number of MP's in parliament but
these often went totally unrepresented.

In addition to this the actual elections were also false. Two thirds
of elections were uncontested because people could not afford to stand
against the successful candidate. The election process was not
conducted on a single day but held over a number of weeks. The result
might not be know for 2 months. There was no voting in secrecy. Voting
took place on a platform amid an atmosphere of drunkenness and
sometimes violent intimidation. Corruption was rife in terms of
treating, cooping and the hiring of lambs. It is therefore reasonable
that people called for reform in 1832.

The 1832 Reform Act was seen at the time to be a solution to an
ongoing problem highlighted by popular unrest. It attempted to correct
the failings of 'Old Corruption' whilst ensuring the elites in society
retained their grip on power. The Act consisted of two essential
elements, the redistribution of seats and the remodelling and
systemising of the franchise. The Act released 143 seats that were
redistributed accordingly - 62 seats to English counties, 22 new
two-member boroughs, 19 new single member boroughs, 8 new seats in
Scotland, 5 new seats in Wales and 5 new seats in Ireland.

In the boroughs there was an introduction of the #10 householder
franchise. Every male aged over 21 who occupied property with an
annual value of over #10 was entitled to vote so long as he had been
living in the property for at least one year, paid taxes on the
property and had not received any poor relief during the previous
years. Any man who had been entitled to vote before 1832 retained the
right to vote if he lived within 7 miles of the borough in which he
voted. Borough...

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