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The Whig Reforms Social Reform  The 1832 GRA was followed by a burst of social reform from the Whigs – arguably the most extensive.

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Presentation on theme: "The Whig Reforms Social Reform  The 1832 GRA was followed by a burst of social reform from the Whigs – arguably the most extensive."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Whig Reforms

2 Social Reform  The 1832 GRA was followed by a burst of social reform from the Whigs – arguably the most extensive series of reforms that had been up to that point attempted by any government Reforms included: 1. The first government grant for education 1833 2. The Factory Act 1833 – first ever regulation of factory conditions 3. The Abolition of slavery in the British Empire 1833/4 4.The Poor Law Amendment Act 1834 – an attempt to rationalise and improve the relief of poverty 5. The Municipal Corporations Act 1835 – a reform of local government

3 Motivations  Fear of revolution – urgent need to tackle social problems such as poverty, factory conditions etc. – the country had been close to revolution during the struggle for the GRA  Liberalism (the ideology of the new middle class?) – Adam Smith and Jeremy Bentham  Humanitarianism – Christian campaigners putting pressure on the government e.g. William Wilberforce and Richard Oastler

4 Key Exam Questions  How successful were the Whig domestic reforms of 1833-41?  How liberal/progressive were the Whig reforms of 1833-41? Look at dates carefully – a question which cites 1832-41 could also include the GRA

5 Liberalism  Liberalism was changing! Adam Smith had said that the role of government should be minimal and the economy should be free from government control. The phrase ‘Laissez faire’ has been used to describe this approach – let the ‘market’ decide wage rates, working conditions, keep taxes low etc.  This classical liberal position was challenged by new liberals such as Jeremy Bentham and the ‘Philosophical Radicals’ who argued that some government intervention was necessary

6 Bentham  Individual freedom still very important but government intervention sometimes necessary – sometimes individual freedom had to be sacrificed to protect society.  Bentham introduced his utilitarian principle to the role of government and to morals ‘does it lead to the greatest happiness of the greatest number?’. If it does then it must be the right thing to do.  Institutions and policies were to be subjected to other ‘utility’ principles in order to protect liberties – ‘What is it for?’ ‘What use is it?’ ‘Is it effective?’  The ‘utilitarian's’ or ‘philosophical radicals’ were an influential if small group of M.P’s and activists whose influenced can be seen in some of the Whig Reforms

7 Humanitarians  A humanitarian is defined as someone who works for the benefit of humanity by reducing suffering.  In the 19 th century there were a number of humanitarians both inside and outside Parliament often inspired by Christianity e.g. Elizabeth Fry who campaigned for more humane prisons. William Wilberforce who campaigned against slavery. Richard Oastler who campaigned for better factory conditions

8 Education 1833  In 1833 the first ever government grant (£20,000) for education was established. This was the first time ever that public money had been set aside for the purpose of education  It was to be divided up between two religious societies involved in schooling and when compared to the annual budget for the royal stables - £50,000 doesn’t seem very much!  However it marks the beginnings of government interest in education – arguably the first step towards the modern State education system.

9 The Factory Act 1833  This was the first law regulating factory conditions which was enforced by factory inspectors 1. Work by children under 9 made illegal 2. Child workers between 9-13 years were to be given 2 hours schooling a day and to work no longer than 9 hours 3. Workers aged 13-18 years to be worked no more that 12 hours a day Adult working hours and conditions left untouched and remained dreadful. However at least there was now a system of inspecting factories which would allow any future reform to be effective

10 Abolition of the Slave Trade 1833  After a lifelong struggle against the slave trade William Wilberforce just lived long enough to see the slave trade outlawed in the British Empire by the Whigs.  Slave owners were compensated with £20,000,000 (around half of total government yearly expenditure) of government money – around £37 a slave

11 Poor Law Amendment Act 1834  By far the most significant piece of Whig legislation was the reform of the Poor Law.  The Old Poor Law dated back to Elizabethan times and had broken down as a result of the industrial revolution.  The ‘Speenhamland system’ had been adopted over much of the south of England putting enormous pressure of local ratepayers as employers reduced wages  The Whigs appointed the Poor Law Commission to investigate and propose a new system of poor relief

12 Main Features  The Speenhamland system ended – no more ‘outdoor relief’ for the able bodies – in essence only the elderly or sick and disabled to get handouts  The able bodies to be subjected to the ‘workhouse test’ – Anyone who received aid from the ratepayers had to be prepared to enter the workhouse  Workhouse conditions (food and accommodation) to be set to be ‘less attractive than the situation of the independent labourer of the lowest class’  Those entering the workhouse were made to work for their keep (stone breaking etc) and were subjected to complete loss of liberty, the separation of married couples and their children, and severe rules such as no visitors, meals to be consumed in silence. Unless an inmate chose to leave and risk starvation there was little chance of getting out and finding work

13 Municipal Corporations Act 1835  Set up a uniform system of elected town councils and extended the vote in local elections to all ratepayers.  Local councils directed to organise local police forces modelled on Peel’s Met

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