- Eng. Hist.any of the bills passed by Parliament (1832, 1867, 1884) providing for an increase in the number of voters in elections for the House of Commons, esp. the bill of 1832 by which many rotten boroughs were disfranchised. Also called Reform Act.
* * *▪ British historyany of the British parliamentary bills that became acts in 1832, 1867, and 1884–85 and that expanded the electorate for the House of Commons and rationalized the representation of that body. The first Reform Bill primarily served to transfer voting privileges from the small boroughs controlled by the nobility and gentry to the heavily populated industrial towns. The two subsequent bills provided a more democratic representation by expanding voting privileges from the upper levels of property holders to less-wealthy and broader segments of the population.The first Reform Bill was necessitated chiefly by glaring inequalities in representation between traditionally enfranchised rural areas and the rapidly growing cities of newly industrial England. For example, such large industrial centres as Birmingham and Manchester were unrepresented, while parliamentary members continued to be returned from numerous so-called “rotten boroughs (rotten borough),” which were virtually uninhabited rural districts, and from “pocket boroughs (pocket borough),” where a single powerful landowner or peer could almost completely control the voting. The sparsely populated county of Cornwall returned 44 members, while the City of London, with a population exceeding 100,000, returned only 4 members.The first Reform Bill was authored by then prime minister Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey (Grey, Charles Grey, 2nd Earl), and was introduced into the House of Commons in March 1831 by John Russell; it passed by one vote but did not pass in the House of Lords. An amended Reform Bill passed the Commons without difficulty the following October but again failed to pass the House of Lords, creating a public outcry in favour of the bill. When a third Reform Bill passed the Commons but was thrown out in the Lords on an amendment, Grey in desperation proposed in May 1832 that King William IV grant him authority for the creation of 50 or more Liberal peers—enough to carry the bill in the still-obstinate House of Lords. William refused, and when Grey threatened to resign as prime minister, the king called in the duke of Wellington to try to form a new government. When Wellington tried and failed, the king yielded to Grey and pledged the authority for the creation of new peers. The threat was enough. The bill passed in the House of Lords (those who objected abstaining), and it became law June 4, 1832.The First Reform Act reformed the antiquated electoral system of Britain by redistributing seats and changing the conditions of the franchise. Fifty-six English boroughs lost their representation entirely; Cornwall's representation was reduced to 13; 42 new English boroughs were created; and the total electorate was increased by 217,000. Electoral qualifications were also lowered to permit many smaller property holders to vote for the first time. Although the bill left the working classes and large sections of the lower middle classes without the vote, it gave the new middle classes a share in responsible government and thus quieted political agitation. However, the Act of 1832 was in essence a conservative measure designed to harmonize upper- and middle-class interests while continuing traditional landed influence. The Second Reform Act, 1867, largely the work of the Tory Benjamin Disraeli, gave the vote to many workingmen in the towns and cities and increased the number of voters to 938,000. The Third Reform Act of 1884–85 extended the vote to agricultural workers, while the Redistribution Act of 1885 equalized representation on the basis of 50,000 voters per each single-member legislative constituency. Together these two acts tripled the electorate and prepared the way for universal male suffrage.
* * *
Look at other dictionaries:
Reform Bill — Eng. Hist. any of the bills passed by Parliament (1832, 1867, 1884) providing for an increase in the number of voters in elections for the House of Commons, esp. the bill of 1832 by which many rotten boroughs were disfranchised. Also called… … Useful english dictionary
Reform Bill — /rəˈfɔm bɪl/ (say ruh fawm bil) noun English History any one of the bills passed by parliament in 1832, 1867, 1884, which reformed the House of Commons by increasing the number of voters in elections and redistributing many seats … Australian English dictionary
Reform Bill of 1832 — British parliamentary act that expanded the electorate. It transferred voting privileges from the small rural boroughs controlled by the nobility and gentry to the heavily populated but underrepresented industrial towns. Conceived by Prime… … Universalium
Reform Bill of 1867 — British parliamentary act that extended the vote to many workingmen in the towns and cities, creating a major working class constituency for the first time. It was largely conceived by Benjamin Disraeli, who hoped to expand his base of potential… … Universalium
Reform Bill of 1884–85 — British parliamentary act that gave the vote to agricultural workers. In 1885 the Redistribution Act equalized representation on the basis of 50,000 voters for each member of parliament. Together the two acts tripled the electorate and prepared… … Universalium
Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937 — The Hughes Court, 1932–1937. Front row: Justices Brandeis and Van Devanter, Chief Justice Hughes, and Justices McReynolds and Sutherland. Back row: Justices Roberts, Butler, Stone, and Cardozo … Wikipedia
Dodd-Frank Financial Regulatory Reform Bill — A piece of legislation that increased government oversight of trading in complex financial instruments such as derivatives. The Dodd Frank Financial Regulatory Reform Bill was named after Senator Christopher J. Dodd and U.S. Representative Barney … Investment dictionary
Traveller Law Reform Bill — United Kingdom. A proposal sponsored in the House of Commons during 2003 by MP David Atkinson … Historical dictionary of the Gypsies
Bill C-61 (39th Canadian Parliament, 2nd Session) — Bill C 61, An Act to amend the Copyright Act , was a bill tabled in 2008 during the second session of the 39th Canadian Parliament by Minister of Industry Jim Prentice. The bill died on the table when the 39th Parliament was dissolved prematurely … Wikipedia
Reform movement — redirects here. For specific organizations by that name, see Reform Movement (disambiguation) A reform movement is a kind of social movement that aims to make gradual change, or change in certain aspects of society rather than rapid or… … Wikipedia