Brief notes on how Britain was democratic (BRITAIN- 20 mark essay template)

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Redistribution of Seats Act (1885)


  • This act was an attempt to reflect accurately on the changing population in Britain.
  • Smaller towns with fewers constituencies lost their right to an MP, while larger towns gained an MP.
  • For example, 79 towns with a population of below 15000 lost two seats, while 36 towns with poulations between 15000 and 30000 lost one seat.


  • This was an attempt to have equal numbers of MPs and voters to each constituency in order to account for the growing population of Britain and to make voting fairer.
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Extension of Franchise


  • The 1884 Reform Act gave the vote to the working class and to skilled workers living in the countryside the same right to vote as those in the cities. This increased the amount of voters from 1 in 7 to 1 in 3 (men only).
  • In 1928, the Franchise Act gave men and women of the age 21 and above the right to vote. 


  • The extension of the vote to the working class meant that voting was opened up to the class which covered the majority of British people. This meant that voting was no longer for the exclusive reserve of only a rew wealthy people.
  • Compared to an earlier Britain, the country had gotten closer to a democracy as men and women shared the same right to vote, proving Britain to be closer to the idea of how all men and women are equal. 
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Election Reforms


  • The 1872 Ballot Act meant that voting could now be done in secret instead of public censurship. 
  • In 1883, the Corrupt and Illegal Practices Act limited the amount of money a candidate could spend during the election period. It was also illegal for landowners to force their workers to vote as they did by threatening their jobs.


  • Voting was becoming freer and fairer as it could no longer be influenced by intimidation and politicians could no longer buy their way into power. Britain was attempting to make the process of voting peaceful for all. 
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Parliament Act, 1911


  • Lords oculd no longer prevent the passage of money bills
  • The maximum length of parliament was reduced from 7 years to 5. 
  • Salaries for MPs were introduced.


  • The power of the unelected House of Lords was reducing, allowing the power of the elected House of Commons to become increasingly freer from their control. 
  • People from poorer backgrounds could now afford to be MPs due to the introduction of salaries, allowing for a wider representation of Britain. 
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HOWEVER, Britain was not yet a Democracy because..

  • The House of Lords still remained unelected and the Head of State was still selected on a hereditary principle- leaving it a birth right rather than a product of hard work.
  • Plural voting still existed withiin Britain. For example, a man could have multiple votes if he owned land in different constituencies. Members of universities also still allowed two votes.  
  • Although salaries for MPs were introduced, they were still low, meaning the House of Commons consisted mainly of middle class, white, males. This meant that the members of parliament weren't an accurate representation of the majority of British people who were working class. 
  • There were still no votes for people under the age of 21. 
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