How successful were Peel's Economic and Financial Reforms in the period 1841-6?

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How successful were Peel's economic and financial reforms in the period 1841-6?
The main focus of Peel's reform was primarily economic and financial, Peel believed these were the
fundamentals to catalyse social reform and make good progress to lift the nation out of economic
crisis. Peel understood the short term crisis of this economic disaster but was more concerned with
the damage the depression did to social harmony.
Firstly, Peel brought in the 1842 "Free Trade" Budget which came in two key measures. The first
measure being the reintroduction of Income Tax at seven pence in the pound on all incomes greater
than £150. This was an extravagant move to protect public interest and leave the poor sectors of
society unaffected. However, it was taking money away from the classes in society which could make
more of an impact on kick starting the economy again. The second measure was the abolition of
export duty on manufactured goods altogether whilst the level of import duty was to be reduced on
750 of 1200 products which charged duty. This was significant because it stimulated a trade revival
which would benefit the government's pockets and the living standards of the population. Overall
this helped the poor greatly because they didn't have the burdens of income tax to deal with and the
reduction in import duty reduced the prices of goods so they were more affordable for the poor.
The abolition of export duty encouraged British traders to trade abroad but these changes to duties
also discouraged people away from the black market.
Tariff Reductions between 1842-5 came in three bills. The first in 1842 which lowered import duty on
cattle, this kick started the livestock industry in a period where agriculture was struggling to make a
positive impact on the economy. This would've also lowered prices of livestock products which
would've benefited the population and encouraged more trade. However, it could be described as
insensible because agriculture was a weak producer of profit and therefore this wasn't a good ploy
to reduce the deficit of £7.7 million. In 1843 a Canada Corn Bill was passed, allowing corn to be
imported at low tariffs. This was a move to protect the poor because corn made up a lot of the diet
that the poor could afford however in some ways it could be described as pointless concerning social
reform because the Corn Laws fixed the price of foreign imported corn to the consumer so it wasn't
bringing social reform to the worse off because they were forced to buy British Corn. It was just
reducing the price merchants paid to import the corn thus encouraging trade and slightly reducing the
price of imported corn for the consumer which would've been the well-off classes. The final bill
introduced was to lower the tariff on imported foreign sugar. This would've benefitted all consumers
and traders because there were no restrictions on the price the sugar could be sold at. However
overall the Import Tariff acts were restricted to certain items so the benefits and potential growth in
the economy was limited greatly.
The 1845 budget saw the extension of Income Tax for a further three years in order to reduce tariffs
further and in some cases abolish them completely. Peel had in essence accomplished the
transformation of Great Britain into a free-trade economy so the reforms had been an utter success
from that perspective. He'd set out plans and promises to achieve this and he had succeeded which
would have increased patronage to the Tory party depending on how people weighed the
accomplishment against the yield which had been brought by a free-trade economy. With the
extension of Income Tax came more minuscule progress. The Budget of 1842 had not produced

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To foster a more stable economic climate in which business activity might readily flourish Peel
introduced the Bank Charter Act 1844. It regulated the banking system to restore business
confidence by stabilising the currency but some would argue it restricted the banks economic growth
but this was counteracted by the gold discoveries in the late 1840s.…read more


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