The first major reform of the representative system since the time of Cromwell. Lord Grey saw reform as a means of satisfying the desire of the respectable middle classes for greater representation and the character of the Act was accordingly moderate. The principal changes were: 1. Redistribution of constituencies. Boroughs with a population of less than 4,000 were either disfranchised, or reduced to one member instead of two. Some seats were added to the rural counties and others to towns such as Birmingham and Manchester. 2. Changes in the electoral qualifications: long leaseholders were added to the ‘40s. freeholders’ in the counties and in the boroughs a uniform franchise, vested in householders occupying property valued at £10 or more for local rates, was established. 3. Rules were established for the conduct of elections. The Act satisfied the middle classes in general but agitation for more radical reform continued among the working classes, though no further general changes were made until 1867.
Subjects: British History.