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Reforms of the Tory Government

In: Historical Events

Submitted By millieprow
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How far was Tory government in the year’s 1822-29 reforming government?

The economy was rapidly growing by the 1820s. The gross national product estimated to have rose from a fall by 3.4% in 1810 to 16.8% in the 1820s. This showed that the economy was steadily getting better and sparked a change for the cabinet. They provided the impression of change by appointing young liberal men to introduce liberal reforms. However the Tory government were only partly a reforming government with some acts actually failing.

In 1823, William Huskissun was appointed president of the Board of Trade, and greatly attempted to liberalize Great Britain's trading regulations. In doing this, he reformed the Navigation Acts, reduced import duties, and attempted to introduce a sliding scale to relax the effect of the Corn Laws. This was introduced due to merchants and industrialists who thought tariffs on goods encouraged other countries to further raise tariffs. Britain had industrialized first, so if goods were cheaper British industry would benefit. By 1825, Duties on all goods fell from 50% to 20%. The result of this was British trade improved and the cost of living fell. Another example of a Tory reforming government was the relaxation of Trade Unions. Trade Unions had been illegal since the Combination Acts of 1799. However, due to the change of tone in government and the improving economy they realized that the Combination Acts were actually harming the economy therefore the act must be abolished. The result was a wave of strikes so an Amending Law was passed but the working classes were now allowed to have Trade unions.

By 1820 juries were becoming increasingly reluctant to condemn petty criminals the death penalty. This resulted in Peel’s reform of the criminal code in 1823, which abolished 180 capital offences, though coining, livestock theft, housebreaking were not. This was not such a liberal act as he only removed laws, which were obsolete or rarely enforced. Peels reforms were done however not for moral or humanitarian reasons but for speed and efficiency. Although the relaxation of the ban on trade unions may appear to be evidence of the liberalism, it was actually false hope. Although the 1824 Act accepted that unions should have legal status, it restricted union’s freedom of action. This was because it was becoming clear that workers were taking advantage of the new legislation and there was immediate upsurge in union activity and strikes. To resolve this the “Amending Act” of 1825 was created which meant that although Trade unions were allowed to be formed, it was however illegal for them to use any form of force. This gave the impression that the aim was to restrict rather than encourage union activity. In this way it was more an illiberal rather than liberal measure.

To conclude, the Tory government was only partly a reforming government but most of these decisions made where out of self-interest, speed and efficiency and to give the illusion of a liberal change. Once the economy was growing, Huskissun reduced import duties, which improved Britain’s trading system then improving the economy again. However as Britain industrialized first, if goods were cheaper British industry would benefit which again shows the self-interest. This then lead to the ban of Trade unions as now the economy was growing, the employment levels where also increasing. The working class then demanded the trade unions however even though they were given the tittle, they could unite and strike which was the main function of the Trade unions in the first place.…...

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