How liberal were the Tories from 1821 to 1827?

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How liberal were the Tories from 1821 to 1827?

After the instability Great Britain faced from the beginning of the 18th Century, it was essential for the country to allow itself a period of calm and opulence, in order to restore and subdue the political situation. The period of 1822 to 1827 contrasted greatly to the 7 years of ‘tyranny’ between 1815-1822, when the country had seemingly been in full anti-revolution lockdown. Now the Tories, according to historians such as W.R Brock and Derek Beales, had become a lot more enlightened, meaning the government took a much more sympathetic and tolerant attitude towards economic, political and foreign aspects.

The conservative cabinet experienced major changes in 1822; many more younger and middle-class members had joined. Key liberal names included George Canning, Sir Robert Peel, Frederick Robinson and William Huskisson. Although calling these men fully liberal would be false, they all shared a common ideology- they wished for greater productivity in the way the government was run. They were also influenced by Jeremy Bentham, a utilitarian, who held a philosophy that making the whole of the population happy was the sole aim of any successful government (“greatest happiness of the greatest number”). To achieve this, it was vital for the new liberal-tory government to improve economic conditions which would help take away the reasons for criticising government policy, and would help achieve the goal of creating a better standard of life in Britain.

Lord Liverpool had been a firm believer in free trade and in a famous speech in 1820 he argued a need to reduce tariffs or taxes imposed on imports from abroad.  It was believed that the fewer restrictions there would be placed on the economy and the less the government ‘got involved’ in it, then the more successful the economy of the country would become. The Corn Laws, implemented in 1815, had actually been detrimental to free trade and the Tory government wanted to make a change in order to boost free trade. To do this, they made a variety of alterations to government.

Firstly, they introduced the Reciprocity of Duties Act, which meant that only British ships carrying goods could enter the British Isles. This was designed to protect British traders from competition from the Dutch, however this act proved to be more damaging than beneficial. Due to this act, other countries were now rejecting British ships from entering their ports, as a type of “revenge”. However, the Reciprocity Act of 1823 fixed the government’s blunder by now allowing foreign ships into Britain. This was seen as a gesture of goodwill abroad, which could potentially help relations with other countries, and also led to reducing the costs of imports to British manufacturers, helping to make it cheaper for them hence improving trade, and so the economy.

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On the topic of economy and trade, trade restrictions were also majorly relaxed, following a strict period when the colonies of Britain were not allowed to trade with foreign countries. This change can be put down to Hussikson- who also ensured that duties being traded between Britain and the colonies were lower than in the rest of the world. This, once again, improved trade in Britain, therefore improving the economy in a bid to have the country's economy become that of a more liberal one. And the aim of improving the economy, was to improve the standard of life- which ...

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