During the long reign of 63 years, many changes were brought about in England. Victorian Era is known for the vast developments that took place changing the political and economic structure of England.
Victorian era political history
The English government under the rule of Queen Victoria was a monarchy which also comprised of a Parliament. The Parliament was a Bicameral legislature which consisted of – The House of Lords and The House of Commons. The said houses would meet separately and passed a bill as law by majority votes. However, for the bill to passed, it was necessary that both the houses accent to it.
Victorian political parties and houses
The members of the House of Lords were not elected by public voting and the Lord Chancellor was appointed to supervise its activities. On the other hand, the members of the House of Commons were elected by public voting. In the initial years of the Victorian period, there were two strong political parties, The Whigs and the Tories (Conservatives). These were the first political parties in England who dominated the political field throughout the Victorian reign.
The Whigs were in favor of growth of the Parliament and wanted to restrict the royal power. Towards the end of 1850, the Whigs became Liberals. They were of the opinion that Parliament should take all the decisions and all men should be having a right to vote and elect members. In 1858, Lord Palmerston, the Prime Minister of England resigned from his post after the Orsini plot against Napolean III, the French emperor fell out.
Tories, the other dominant party was in favor of monarchy. Many rich officials belonging to high posts were members of this party. Their view about voting was exactly opposite to that of the Whigs. Tories believed that only those men who were rich and owned large plots of land should have the right to vote.
Victorian political timeline
Voting remained more or less a matter of debate. Acts of legislation gave more of the working and scope for the middle class to vote. The said Acts were known as the Reform Acts which were passed in 1832, 1867 and 1884.
In 1760s William Pitt advocated Parliamentary reform. One of the important political unions which supported the reforms was the Birmingham Political Union headed by Thomas Attwood. The first Reform Act was represented in 1832 by Lord John Russell to the House of Commons. According to this Act, men who owned a house worth more than ten pounds would get the right.
This meant that on an average, one in five men would get the voting right. The 1867 Reform Act provided for the right to vote to all those who owned a house, irrespective of its value. It increased the number of voters. The 1884 Act included poor people’s right of voting. Farmers and rural workers were given voting right under this act which instantly escalated the number of voters. Continue to read more about the Victorian politics.