Had the Corn Laws Not Been Repealed So Soon

  • John Prest


Consistently with the stand they had taken while they were in opposition, Peel and his Ministers appear to have resolved, in 1844, to remodel the Irish registration system as closely as possible upon the English one. The revision was to take place every year, the solvent tenant test was to be re-enacted in its English form of ‘clear yearly value’, and both disappointed claimants and disappointed objectors were to be allowed to lodge appeals with the judges of the Court of Exchequer sitting in Dublin.1 Thus far there were no surprises, and the draft Bill was not a conciliatory one. But Peel was tiring of party, and in an attempt to lay it to rest he conceded that existing electors should be allowed to remain on the registers until their certificates expired.2 Most important of all, the government recognised that strict enforcement of the clear-yearly-value test would disfranchise anything up to two-thirds of the present electorate, and accepted the necessity to change the franchises.3 Accordingly the Ministry proposed to lower the qualification for a freeholder from £10 to £5.4


Select Committee Building Society Registered Elector Universal Suffrage Friendly Society 


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  1. 14.
    Bright, PD 3 ser. CV 1196, 5 June 1849; J. A. Langford, Modern Birmingham and its Institutions vol. 2 (Birmingham, 1877) pp. 160–1.Google Scholar
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    For the development of party activity, see especially Ostrogorski, Democracy and the Organisation of Political Parties (1902); C. Seymour, Electoral Reform in England and Wales (New Haven, 1915);Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© John Prest 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Prest
    • 1
  1. 1.OxfordUK

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