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Which was the most significant Reform, 1830-1931, why?

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A2 History Which was the most significant Reform, 1830-1931, why? During the period 1830-1931 many reforms were passed resulting in a more democratic Britain, although each were passed for various reasons, each helped in extending the vote (which once was only possessed by the upper class). For a democracy in Britain, there had to be universal suffrage, where every man and women have the right to vote regardless of class. Also a secret ballot must be in place to prevent corruption. Equal sizes of constitutions need to be enforced, with regular elections and elected members of government. In a democracy, the voters must have civil rights, such as freedom of speech and the right to stand in elections. The reforms passed during this century helped progress Britain into a democratic state, such reforms include: The "Great Reform Act" of 1832; The "Second Reform Act" of 1867; "The Third Reform Act" of 1884; "The Representation of the peoples Act" of 1918 and the "Equal Franchise Act" of 1928 along with many others between this period. Each reform singled out was significant, but which really pushed Britain in the direction of democracy? The first reform act in 1832 abolished the pocket/rotten borough, which had formed unrepresentative constituencies. It also redistributed seats on a more impartial basis in the counties, and formed some new boroughs. ...read more.


The increase in size of the electorate brought about by the Second Reform Act was huge in comparison to the first, with most of this increase being concentrated in the boroughs. What was even more significant was the fact that the majority of voters in many of these boroughs were working class voters. However, the limited redistribution of seats still left London and the north underrepresented in parliament, with an imbalance which allowed the rural south and west to be overrepresented in the terms of size of population. The franchise in the countries was still based on property ownership and was still very restrictive, even in the boroughs the householder franchise bared many restrictions. Although many historians saw this act as doing nothing for democracy except creating a distant point on the horizon, I believe it somewhat progressed the stairway to democracy. The Third Parliamentary Reform Act consisted of two pieces of legislation which came together. The first of these was the Franchise Act of 1884. In this act the Franchise was extended to all male householders. This increased the size of the Franchise from 3.1 million to 5.7 million. However, this does not mean that all that all male householders got the vote as not all males owned homes. The second part of the act was the Retribution of Seats Act of 1885. ...read more.


Men over the age of twenty-one with a six month residency were also included. However, there has been much debated among historian whether the Women's Movement or the part that women played during the First World War directly resulted in women being given the vote in 1918. The act thereby opened up career opportunities for women in professions such as the legal system or politics. But evidence would suggest that Britain did not become a proper democracy until 1928 when the (Equal Franchise Act) second Representation of the People Act extended the franchise to both men and women over the age of twenty-one, which extended the franchise to 97% of the British population. By 1928 Britain had to all of the necessary steps to be classed as a true democracy which radically changed Britain's political identity in the process Although the later acts helped to truly create a democratic Britain, I believe it was the earlier acts which pushed Britain up the stairway of democracy, with the first steps being the hardest to take. In particular the First Reform Act really questioned the state of the political system and started to remove the land elite from total domination. Once in place it was bound further acts would pursue to pass until Britain was truly a democratic state. Therefore I believe the most significant act was The First "Great" Reform Act. 6th January 2004 ...read more.

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