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Examine the extent to which the new Poor Law was more effective than the system it replaced?

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  • Essay length: 1482 words
  • Submitted: 17/06/2008
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AS and A Level British History: Monarchy & Politics

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Examine the extent to which the new Poor Law was more effective than the system it replaced?

Firstly, the word 'effective' needs clarification- more effective for whom? There were two groups who could have benefited from the reformed Poor Law- the ratepayers, and the poor. Unfortunately, the interests of the two groups were mutually exclusive. I will test the four basic terms of the new Act for their effectiveness and benefits for both groups. The Royal Commission that investigated the Old Poor Law had strong Benthamite influences, such as Edwin Chadwick, the secretary. The key principle behind Benthamism was that if a law or institution was not useful and/or efficient, it must be changed or scrapped. Because the report became the Act, it was heavily influenced by the Benthamite doctrine of 'the greatest happiness for the greatest number', and in this case, the greatest number was the taxpayers.

What needs to be looked at in order to gauge the effectiveness of the replacement system is what problems the old system caused, and how/if the new measures solved them. Firstly, the old Poor Law Act had existed since 1601 and although it had gone through several alterations during

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