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Peel as Prime Minister 1841 – 1846 How successful?

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Presentation on theme: "Peel as Prime Minister 1841 – 1846 How successful?"— Presentation transcript:

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2 Peel as Prime Minister 1841 – 1846 How successful?

3 Overview Problems facing Peel in 1841 The Budgets of 1842 and 1845 Income Tax Financial Reform and Industrial Reforms –The Bank Charter Act –The Companies Act Social Issues Peel and Ireland –The Irish Famine, Maynooth, Daniel O'Connell etc. Peel and the Corn Laws –Influence of the Anti Corn Law League –Repeal of the Corn Laws –The collapse of the Conservative Party.

4 Problems in 1841? Economic problems –£7.5 million deficit –Free Trade or not Free Trade Corn Laws –Reintroduction of Income Tax Who to tax, how much –Population shift The Reform of Banks etc

5 Social Problems –Social unrest Middle Classes – unhappy with the Whigs Working class unrest – Chartism Extreme poverty, unemployment, high taxes, low wages, lack of education, working conditions, poor food, living conditions

6 Political problems –Potential internal splits – free trade –Peels resistance to further political reform middle classes Working classes Radical threat – Chartism, Anti Corn Law League Ireland –Home Rule for Ireland, famine, the Irish diaspora

7 Solutions: The Economy Solving the Economic problems was central to Peels government. Economic slump, poor harvests, high prices, financial crisis etc Peel had to address these issues if he was to successfully address the many social issues.

8 The Budgets and Free Trade The issue of Free Trade –The Whigs had failed to make any progress and over 1200 goods were still subject to tariffs. Peel came under the influence of the Manchester Group – who believed tariffs were stifling industry The higher taxes on imported goods the higher the cost of production – so prices were kept high – hitting the poor. Also Foreign countries resented the tariffs so were unwilling to trade. –Peel We need to make this country a cheap place to live in

9 The Budgets 1842 and 1845 The budgets swept away a large proportion of the remaining duties. –Duties removed form over 600 items –Duties greatly reduced on 500 others No longer any export duties No import duties on raw cotton, livestock meat potatoes Duty on cheese imported from the colonies reduced from 10 shillings to 1 shilling per hundred weight

10 Income Tax Income tax was reintroduced at a rate of 7p in the £ on incomes over £150 per year. (should have only lasted 3 years)

11 Financial Reforms The Bank Charter Act 1844 –The banking system was unstable – any bank could issue notes with any face value, without the gold reserves to support the value. –Key features of the Act No new banks could issue notes Existing banks were restricted in issuing notes Bank of England could issue notes to the value of £14 million anything beyond that figure had to covered by Gold reserves.

12 Financial Reforms The Companies Act 1844 –This act placed controls on the formation of companies. All companies had to be officially registered and produce accounts. –Limited success but some companies – those who needed special approval from Parliament were exempt.

13 How successful were the economic reforms? The Budgets –Worked exactly as Peel wanted – a trade revival followed, exports increased, unemployment fell, food ( not bread) became much cheaper. Income Tax –Together with the trade reforms – the deficit of the Whigs was turned into a £2 million surplus.

14 How successful were the economic reforms? The Bank Charter Act –Very successful, eventually only the Bank of England issued notes, and controlled the amount of currency in circulation. The £ became stable and London the monetary centre of the world. Peels reforms moved Britain into a golden age of prosperity that was to last until 1875.

15 Social Reforms Peel was aware of the terrible conditions in some factories and towns. –Peel did not want to pass laws – it would be more effective to let the economic policies bear fruit. –Peel did not want to lose the support of the middle class business men.

16 Pressure for social reform 1842 – Unemployment reached its peak –Unrest led by the Chartists –Pressure from Lord Shaftsbury – the 10 hour movement. –Pressure from Edwin Chadwick – investigation into public health.

17 Extent of Reform Mines Act 1842 – result of report on child labour. –Terms of Act – limits women working mines, and children under 10. –10 hours a day Factory Act 1844 – limits working to 10 hours Railway Act 1844 – limits cost of travel some trains 1p per mile Baths and Wash House Act 1846 – provision of low cost local wash houses.

18 Limits of the Reforms Was Peel a reluctant reformer? –Peel refused to further amend the Poor Law –1842 Mines Act – a step forward but only one inspector for the whole country. –Peels resistance to reducing daily working hours for women to 10, on the grounds it would harm the economy. –No legislation to combat the problem of public health. –All the reforms came from external pressure and not from Peel, Peel do not like Government intervention.

19 Ireland (Read the sample essay) Ireland has been a constant theme in British history since the Norman conquest and Peel like those before him had to deal with the Irish Question. His actions over Catholic Emancipation led people to believe he could be pushed into further reform.

20 Daniel OConnell In Irish politics OConnell, now 65, was losing influence to a group called Young Ireland, who favoured the use of physical force to free Ireland. OConnell staged a last attempt to force the British to repeal the Act of Union, by a policy of agitation and the threat of Civil War. He addressed mass meetings, Tara in 1841, and the climax to the campaign was to be a monster meeting at Clontarf in 1843.

21 The response of Peel Peel was not going to be frightened into giving way He announced that the Union would never be cancelled and any rebellion crushed. The meeting at Clontarf was banned. OConnell now face a difficult choice –Meet and be charged with rebellion –Cancel and be called a traitor by Young Ireland

22 OConnell called the meeting off, Peel had out manoeuvred him. OConnell had misjudged the mood of the people and Peel. –Ireland was not on the verge of Civil War. –OConnell was arrested imprisoned but released on appeal. But the defeat was the end of him as a political force.

23 Peel and Ireland: other reforms Peel combined the firm line with mild concessions. –Devon Commission – to investigate problems of land holding. Reported in 1845, but no time to act before the Government fell. –Maynooth Grant – to please the Catholics Peel increased the grant t Maynooth, which trained priests, from £9000 to £ This move was not popular with the protestants and only passed with the support of the Whigs.

24 Impact of Ireland on Peel and his Party. Irish affairs had deeply divided the Conservative Party. Peel had not be able to tackle the country's basic poverty. Worse was to come, in 1845 the Irish potato crop had failed, famine was imminent Repeal of the Corn Laws now seemed vital.

25 The struggle to repeal the Corn Laws. The Anti Corn Law League –Who –Methods –Activities Arguments for and against repeal Stages of repeal Effects of repeal Why was the Anti Corn Law League successful?

26 The Anti Corn Law League Leaders – Cobden and Bright Methods – non – violent, always within the law. Propaganda newspaper, leaflets, mass meetings, new postal system Activities – mass meetings, 136 in 1843, divided country into areas, paid agents, fund raising from the middle class, petitions, get representation in Parliament.

27 Arguments for and against repeal For –They were a restraint on Free Trade, kept food prices high, the rich gained at the expense of the poor. –If bread prices fall, real wages would increase, workers could buy more with the same money. –Improve the competitiveness of British Farmers –If we imported foreign corn, we could export more goods. –Improved trade would improve international relations. –Response to the Famine

28 Arguments for and against repeal Against –Cheap foreign corn would ruin British farmers –Unemployment would rise in agricultural workers –Demographic shift to the towns, overcrowding etc. –Dependence on imports could be a problem in a war. –Manufactures only wanted cheaper bread so they could pay lower wages.

29 Stages of repeal 1841 – election of Abolitionist MPs forced Peel to slightly reduce duties Between 1842 – 45 Peel became convinced of the need for Repeal – British farming needed to modernise to keep pace with industry Peel was faced with the problem of leading a party committed to the Corn Laws 1845 – Irish famine, imported maize did not solve the issue, Scottish and English potato crop also fail

30 Peel told Cabinet that repeal of the Corn Laws was only way to solve famine. Debate as to whether Peel actually believed this or used it as an excuse to force reform. Peel was not supported and resigned in December Whigs led by Russell form a Government, Peel is outside the debate. Introduces a Repeal Bill, debated in Parliament for 5 months, Peel under attack from Protectionists led by Disraeli, Peel accused of betrayal. Repeal Bill passed in 1846 – only with Whig support. Wellington got the bill through the Lords

31 Effects of repeal No dramatic drop in prices – poor harvests were Europe wide No real impact on British farmers British Farmers did modernise – and could cope with the increase demand for food – so more profits. Trade improved No impact on the Irish Famine Destroyed Peel and the Conservative Party

32 Why was the Anti Corn Law League successful? Single issue Conservative Party were split Support form the industrial middle class – funds for the campaign Top blokes in charge – Cobden and Bright Irish Famine ACLL used all the tools they had – a nationwide campaign.

33 A final analysis of Peel Was Peel a successful Prime Minister? Did Peel betray his Party? Did Peel put the nation above party politics?

34 Was Peel a successful Prime Minister? Yes (page 210, Box 7.12) –His policies led to an age of prosperity – financial stability, trade revived, –He restored confidence in politics – out manoeuvred the Chartists and OConnell –He was a progressive reformer? Accepted things he had previously opposed –He was a man of principle No –a one trick pony – all his faith in free trade –None of the ideas were his – in fact he often started by opposing many things he later accepted.

35 Did Peel betray his Party? No –The new party under his leadership adapted to the demands of the 1840s –He didnt destroy he created – gave the party a sense of purpose –Peelite supporters remained within the party even after Yes –Peel sacrificed his party on many occasions –1829, 1834, 1842, 1845 –Ignored traditional party values – landed interest –Ireland –The Corn Laws

36 Did Peel put the nation above party politics? Yes –Peel was more concerned with good government that catered for all the people even at the risk of being unpopular in his own Party. His policies were designed to draw moderates away from extremes. –Peel gave the Party a national appeal and national leadership, he was a hero of the new enfranchised classes

37 No But remember the ultimate responsibility that lies with him


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