• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How successful was the Reform Act in rectifying defects in the political system?

Extracts from this document...


How successful was the Reform Act in rectifying defects in the political system? The 1832 Reform Act was moderately successful when it came to resolving the inconveniences in the political system at the time. King William IV passed the Reform Act on 7th June 1832. Men such as John Wilkes and Major John Cartwright had made countless demands for the reform of Parliament in the 1760's, there had been no organized and structured reform made in the eighteenth century. Unquestionably after the French Revolution, no Prime Minister in Britain was prepared to advocate for parliamentary reform. The Whig opposition, nevertheless, took the issue as one of their electoral platforms and Earl Grey began to press for a major Reform Bill as early as 1793. When the Reform Act was passed it received a mixed judgement as to whether it was successful in correcting the blemishes that were previously, evidently existent in the political system. There were copious amounts of problems with the political system. The distribution of seats was irregular which meant that various towns and cities either had too little or too much representation. There were many different franchises in boroughs so that some boroughs had high numbers of voters and others scarcely had any. When it came to people voting, it was not a secret ballot so intimidation, threats and bribery could occur from landowners, in order for the voting to go the way the landowners wanted it to. Voting qualifications were put in to place, which meant that many people were incapable of voting, like they would wish. The extent of the defects in the standing system were quite prominent. ...read more.


It can be seen for all the statements and different people's opinions that the 1832 Reform Act made a reasonably positive change. The Reform Act was an optimistic change to many however; the working class were predominantly left out. Despite the fact that the working class helped to make sure that the Reform Act was passed, they still did not gain the vote. The Whigs made no attempt to deny that the �10 qualification was designed to exclude the working classes from the vote; the working class claimed that 'the Bill is a mere trick to strengthen the towering exclusiveness of our blessed constitution'.3 The working class were disappointed with the current Reform Act and this lead them to demand for a further reform act in the near future. Counties had the '40 shilling freeholder' and boroughs had six main types of franchise before the 1832 Reform Act was established, which were as the following; freemen, scot and lot, burgage, corporation, potwalloper and freeholder. The Reform Act formed a standardized franchise in the boroughs, consisting of owners and occupiers of property worth �10 in annual value. Franchise in the counties was specified to �10 copyholders and �50 leaseholders, although the long-standing voting rights of 40-shilling freeholders were upheld. The Reform Act did make some changes to the electorate no matter how people claim that it was rather insignificant. Prior to the act the electorate size in counties was 201,899 after the act the electorate rose to 370,379 overall an increase of 83%. Proceeding to the act the borough electorate was 164,391 however after the number amplified to 282,398 which was a total increase of 72%. ...read more.


After the 1832 Reform Act it was unmistakably noticeable that there were still some defects in the political system. There were still things that needed perfecting and the chartists demanded that the franchise should be widened so that more people could obtain the vote in a fair and uncorrupted way. The chartists demanded that there should be a universal suffrage for all men over the age of 21, equal sized electoral districts, voting via secret ballot should be established to make sure that the voting system was less corrupt, cease the property qualification for Parliament, introduce a wage for members of parliament and annual elections at parliament. In conclusion it seems quite evident that the 1832 Reform Act made a substantial change to the political system, some of this consequently was also a positive change, like the redistribution of seats and representation some of the changes however did not make a positive change to the system, like the secret ballot and the fact that the working class were left out predominantly, therefore leading people to complain about the act. The Act changed the redistribution of seats, for the positive. There were also some things that were left unchanged like the secret ballot and such. As to how far the Reform Act was successful in rectifying the defects in the political system, I think that it changed them more for the positive and made a good standing ground for the further acts to come. Overall in my opinion I believe that the 1832 Reform Act was most defiantly a step in the right direction and was a stepping stone to allow more acts to be passed in the future. The act allowed more people to get their point across and permit Britain to run much more smoothly. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level British History: Monarchy & Politics section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level British History: Monarchy & Politics essays

  1. Why was the reform act of 1832 passed?

    problem the actual number of MP's in comparison to electorate size meant that some areas were under and some far too over represented, meaning that people were still not having an accurate say in the running of their country. As a general rule the southern agricultural counties were over represented

  2. Why was The Great Reform Act passed in 1832 ?

    Sometimes these attacks arose from riots but others were obviously planned. Stories began spreading about there being a leader of the machine breakers, (Luddites), he was called Ned Ludd (sometimes referred to as Captain or General Ludd). Some feared he would lead a general rising and over throw the government,

  1. How do the poets in 'Charlotte O'Neils song' and 'Nothing Changed' show their feelings ...

    Young girls could leave service in England to go to Australia. In Australia the girls found that they were in demand both as servants and as wives. Many of them found it very easy to marry and improve their lot.

  2. Free essay

    how far did the 1832 Reform Act rectify the defects of the original political ...

    On top of these fairly important defects, the political system also had a number of loopholes which could easily be exploited by powerful and even wealthy people. Under this system, there was no secret ballot so people had to publicly announce their vote.

  1. "A system in crying need of urgent and substantial reform" Discuss with relation to ...

    The idea of unfair representation and lack of appreciation of the entire country angered many who felt undesired. As a result they therefore wanted change so their opinions could be represented in parliament. In addition, because the representation in parliament was not modernised to match the rapid urbanisation of Britain there was an imbalance in constituencies across Britain.

  2. Why were the parliamentary armies more successful in 1644/5 than in 1642/3?

    Charles I was obviously a crucial leader. He himself was very keen on war, an able horseman and physically brave. Lord George Goring too was a chief commander, he too had vast experience and excelled in commanding a regiment in the first bishops war and a brigade in the second, earning him the position of the Governor of Portsmouth.

  1. How much change did the Reform Act bring to the British political system?

    Perhaps the biggest success of the Reform Act was that of the 50% electorate increase which was because of the newly revised qualifications. There was a notable redistribution of seats, 55 class A boroughs lost 2 MP's and 30 class B boroughs lost one MP.

  2. How Successful was Edward Carson in His Defense of Unionism During The Third Home ...

    It would not be long before Carson was to bring the gun back into Irish politics.The formation of a paramilitary force in Ulster had not gone un-noticed in the south. Eoin MacNeill decided that the time was right to form the Irish Volunteers.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work