Public General Act, 2&3 William IV, c. 45
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- Held At: Parliamentary Archives: GB-061
- Catalogue Reference: HL/PO/PU/1/1832/2&3W4n147
- Former Archival Reference: Display Document E.86
- Date: 1832
- Level: File
- Extent: 1 roll
- Category: Acts of Parliament/Laws/Legislation
- Description: An Act to amend the Representation of the People in England and Wales. ("Great Reform Act, 1832")
The passing of the "Great Reform Act" was a mixture of political circumstance and popular pressure. Divisions in the anti-reform Tory Party allowed the veteran Whig reformer, Lord Grey, to become Prime Minister in 1830. However, his Reform Bill was rejected by the Tory-dominated House of Lords. It was the agitation from extra-parliamentary radicals in the country at large that finally convinced a sceptical King and hostile lords that reform was necessary.
The effect of this Act was to enable the middle classes of the big industrial towns to share in political power. Each borough had previously followed its own traditional rules for determining those who had the right to vote but henceforward there would be a uniform borough franchise for adult males occupying property worth at least £10 a year. In the counties the more substantial tenant farmers received the vote. Fifty six towns with less than 2,000 inhabitants ("rotten boroughs") lost separate representation and 30 more towns lost one of their two members. New seats were created by giving twenty two large towns two members each and twenty other towns one member each. Provision was made for drawing up registers of electors and for the more efficient holding of elections.
- Access Status: Open
- Access Conditions: This record contains information of outstanding constitutional or historical importance and access to the original document is restricted. Requests to view will be dealt with by providing access to a copy.
- Reproduction Conditions: Copies should be made from the digital surrogate of this record.
- Physical Description: Roll, consisting of some 120 membranes of parchment each 18 inches long.
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