Liverpool - Bills, Laws, Associations and Policies


The Games Law 1816

Social and economic grievances in England led to an increase in the number of people needing food, so poaching increased. The rich wanted the game to hunt for themselves.

The law stated that the punishment for poaching for food would be seven years transportation to Australia. 

Many thought this too harsh. For the rich its a hobby - for the poor, its a meal

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Corn Laws 1815 and its later modifications

Cheap foreign corn imports were bankrupting British corn producers because less were buying British corn. 

The laws banned imports of foreign corn until the British corn sales/prices were high and there was no competition threat. At this point, the limit was 80s per quarter. 

Bread was now expensive and so many poor people went hungry. The government was accused of 'class legalisation'. 

Later Huskisson reformed the Corn Laws by introducing a sliding scale. The new limit was 73s. It didn't really make much difference, since the new limit was rarely reached.

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The Six Acts 1819

Introduced in response to the 1819 Peterloo Massacre. There was:

  • Seditious Meetings Prevention Act - banned meetings of over fifity people without consent of magistrate or sheriff
  • Seizure of Arms Act - local magistrates could search property/persons for weapons
  • Newspaper and Stamp Duty Act - put stamp duty on journals and newspapers, hitting low cost radicals as publications = more expensive
  • The Training Prevention Act - anyone gathering to train could recieve up to seven years transportation
  • Misdemeanors Act - reduced delay in bringing the treasonous to trial
  • Blasphemous and Seditious Libels Act - much stronger punishment for writing against church or state
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Taxation Policy and abolition of income tax 1816

Income tax was abolished in 1816 for those earning £60+ a year, which was a temporary measure introduced by Pitt. It was replaced by increases in a range of indirect taxes on ordinary goods. This effected poorer classes, while easing tax burden on the rich. Tea, sugar, tobacco, beer and paper were some of the things that were taxed. 

However, the government lost £15M a year by doing this and racked up debts of £31M. 

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The Combination Laws and the 1825 Amending Act

Passed by Pitt 1799-1800. These were kept in place by the government, so there was no freedom for workers to form trade unions or have a legitimate channel to voice their grievances. Employers could refuse to improve working conditions. Liverpool refused to repeal it even though the radical threat had decreased.

They were eventually repealled in 1824, but soon after hundreds of trade unions were formed in quick succesion and there were huge strikes. The Amending Act kept trade unions legal but made it near impossible to strike. 

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Factory Act 1819

This limited the ages and working hours of children: all factory workers must now be over 8 years old, and workers ages 9-16 could only work 12 hours maximum a day.

It was very limited. Very few 7 year olds were working, so didn't really make a difference. 12 hours was still obscenely long, and few factory workers made children work this long.

It was also hard to tell biologically how old a child was. Many children did not have birth certificates and many children hid their real ages to try and earn money. 

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Truck Act 1820

Reduced the ability for factory owners to pay workers in vouchers which could only be spent in their employers shop rather than cash.

It was basically ignored. 

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The 'Gagging Acts' 1817

Suspension of Habeas Corpus: Was an anti-radical action from the government. The same as Pitt's suspension - suspects could now be held indefinitely without a trial. 

Seditious Meetings Act: unlawful for more than fifty people to meet together to reduce disobedience and violence. 

Collectively known as the 'Gagging Acts' and were passed after Spa Fields Riots. 

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Navigation Laws and Reprocity of Duties Act

Navigation Laws = outdated set of restrictions. Said British (and colonies) imports must be carried in British ships or the ship of country coming from. Introduced in 1700s to prevent Dutch competition, but by 1820s, they were restrictive as other countries were retaliating with similar policies.

Huskisson's Reprocity of Duties Act 1823 meant free trade because the countries that sign were now allowed free entry for foreign trade. Only signed by 15 countries though, like Brazil, but they mostly had underdeveloped enconomies so not true free trade

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Bank Act 1826

In the 1820s, banks could issue private notes, which had an effect on how many people trusted the money. Some banks had issued more notes than they had in gold stocks, and by 1825, some had gone out of business after demand from those with notes. They did not have sufficient funds to pay customers.

Robinson introduced Bank Act - decreased number of notes issued, increase size of banks and create more stability. Private banks could not print notes less than £5. Greater confidence -> more investment -> industrial expansion.

A good thing, but restrictive and protective.Government interfering in finance

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Penal Code Reform

AKA the "Bloody Code". Meant to be a deterrent by severly punishing people, and introduced after 1819 investigation.

Said 200 crimes punishable by death, and 400 by transportation to Australia. The system began to break down, as juries were unwilling to pass guilty verdicts for trivial offences if the result was death, so many went unpunished.

The death penalty was abolished for over 180 crimes, and punishments were made less severe. Jury system reorganised; spies no longer used. However, people in debt still jailed; only came after pressure from humanitarians (Elizabeth Fry). Only 1/1200 shoplifters were ever found guilty and hung before this, so did it really make a difference?

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The Jails Act 1823

Prisons = overcrowded, disease-ridden, children-adult mixed, jailers who paid prisoners and abuse.

Removed some the abuses - jailers paid; women jailers for women prisoners; all prisoners to recieve education and doctor visits; inspected by magistrates three times a year.

Only applied to prisons in London and 17 main cities. Abuse remained common in small prisons

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Metropolitan Police Act 1829

Bow Street Runners and elderly night watchment = ineffiecient a keeping peace.

Metropolitan Police force had 1000 constables (first police force). Deliberately wore non-military uniform and only had truncheons so they weren't considered military (therefore nicknamed 'Bobbies'). Reduced crime rate spectacularly.

Many criminals moved to other areas, and the ideas spread. Many resented the police rate/local tax and felt they were another form of repression.

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Repeal of the Tests and Corporations Act 1828

These laws said only Anglicans could hole important jobs in the state. Non-Anglicans = not allowed. Included 'Dissenters' (like Methodists, Presbytarians) and Roman Catholics. They'd been ignored for years, so the repeal only recognised what was already happening.

Dissenters now permitted to hold all important jobs in state. No longer had to take Communion in an Anglican way before getting their job. Revealed restrictions applying to Catholics, who were being discrimiated against and being treated as second-class. Francis Burdett raised the issue of Catholic Emancipation in the commons but was ignored.

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Roman Catholic Emancipation 1829

80% Ireland = Catholic but there was Protestant Ascendacy held domination. Pitt had promised RCE but had failed to do so due to George III, who felt it went against his Coronation Oath as Defender of the Anglican Faith. It was passed in the Commons twice in 1822 and 1826, was rejected in Lords. In IRL, Daniel O'Connell was leading the Catholic Association (1823), which had lots of support (1M by 1828) and funding. In 1828, O'Connell legally ran for MP in the county Clare by-election. However, it was illegal for him to take his seat. There was a risk of civil unrest by refusing him, so RCE introduced (Wellington quote), even though both Wellington and Peel were Ultras. Led to resignation of Pitt; duel between Wellington and Lord Winchelsea; Ultras felt betrayed. Catholics could now sit in both Houses of Parliament and hold most important offices of state. Major step towards Catholic equality.

Extremely illiberal reasoning. Only passed under threat and pressure from O'Connell. Some restrictions e.g. couldn't be monarch, Lord Lieutenant (in case lead an army).

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Abolition of the pillory (1816) and whipping of wo

Pillory: A punishment tool used for social embarrassment. Abolished 1816

Whipping of women: Punishment abolished. Could still whip men though so sexism saves the women

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