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How successful were Peel's economic and financial policies during 1841-1846?

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Introduction

How successful were Peel's economic and financial policies during 1841-1846? On examining the period of 1841 and 1846 we can assume with regards to Peel's notoriety as "Prosperity Peel" that this was an effect derived from his successful economic and financial reforms. We will discover that these policies appear to act as the foundation for Britain's prosperous years in the 1850s and 1860s. Nevertheless, we will also determine whether or not these policies were truly successful, or in hindsight question whether they should take responsibility for Britain's economic decline at the end of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth century. After winning the 1841 General Election upon the assumption that he would maintain the Corn Laws, he imposed a doctrine of free trade which originated from his opponents. The Whig Report of the Select Committee on Import Duties (1840) recognized the need for tariff reform. Peel believed that free trade would importantly increase the countries prosperity as the financial circumstances were desperate at the time of 1841 when Peel became Prime Minister. ...read more.

Middle

Children over thirteen and all women were to work for no more than twelve hours a day, nine on Saturday. However, although this was a momentous step forward, mill owners evaded the requirements of this legislation by resorting to the "relay system", which broke up the twelve hours into smaller shifts and spread them over the traditional sixteen-hour workday (5 a.m. - 9 p.m.). It was only until 1847 that the Ten Hour Bill limited the hours of all workers to fifty-eight per week. On the contrary, lack of adequate enforcement, shortage of inspectors, and the failure of the legislation to apply across all trades severely limited its impact proving not as successful as first hoped. Also it was responsible for provoking much opposition from liberal factory owners who were disgusted with the new legislation. The Bank Charter Act established in 1844 aimed to strengthen confidence in the banking system by giving greater control over bank note issue, This legislation made a tremendous impact since it was anti-inflationary and prompted the necessary nationalization of banks; but in times of economic depression it had to be suspended in 1847, 1857 and 1866, since it prevented the essential free-flow of cash required to deal with the collapse in the economy. ...read more.

Conclusion

Subsequently the Corn Laws were abolished and unsurprisingly the Conservative party disintegrated, Peel had to depend on votes from the Whigs as a result. Over 220 Conservatives voted against Peel, led by Disraeli. Concluding from this, it is justified to say that Robert Peel was successful in improving Britain's economic and financial status, the developments he made by speeding up the railway system and stabilising the countries currency has to be recognised. Although, in later years the Bank Charter Act had to be dismissed in times of economic depression it did have success financially. There was an enormous deficit when he became Prime Minister and he solved the problem by reintroducing income tax and reducing duties on many goods. Robert Peel created more job opportunity and drastically improved industry. The negative side to his success was the obvious division amongst the Conservative party and the opposition he gained from liberal landowners in repealing the Corn Laws in order to help the Irish famine. However his policies did make more of a positive impact on the people of Britain and possibly encouraged more change for the future ...read more.

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