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Prime Minister, 1830-1834

Northern Political Union address to Earl Grey

Parliamentary Archives, HC/LB/1/126

After years of struggling and failing to achieve political change, in 1830, enthusiasm for reform was building again in Britain, with younger members of the Whig party eager to take up the issue. In his first speech in the new Parliament of 1830, Grey spoke passionately for reform, a subject which he would once again become heavily involved with at Parliament.

Appointment as Prime Minister, 1830

On the 16th November William IV appointed Grey as Prime Minister, at the age of 66. Nine of the thirteen members of his cabinet were members of the House of Lords. His government's first task would be to produce a reform bill that aimed to give more people a voice and representation in Parliament. A Bill to achieve this was passed on 7th June 1832 and became known as the Great Reform Act. It was one of Grey's greatest achievements.

The effect of this Act was to enable the middle classes of the big industrial towns to share in political power. A uniform borough franchise was created, allowing adult males occupying property worth at least £10 a year to vote. In the counties the franchise was broadened to include the more substantial tenant farmers, small landowners and shopkeepers. Fifty-six towns with less than 2,000 inhabitants ('rotten boroughs') lost separate representation and 31 further towns were reduced to one MP. Sixty-seven new constituencies were created.



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