Compromise and confusion: the ad hoc local governments of mid-Victorian Britain

J. A. Chandler

in Explaining Local Government

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print September 2007 | ISBN: 9780719067068
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781701355 | DOI:
Compromise and confusion: the ad hoc local governments of mid-Victorian Britain

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Pressures to restructure local government in Britain, it may be argued, arise from the concern of practically minded national and local politicians and administrators to adapt its many institutions to deal with the problems thrown up by the growth of cities, the need for a more mobile workforce, the social consequences of enclosures or the demand for improved systems of transport. The development of local government in the mid-nineteenth century to accommodate social change within the framework of ad hoc agencies, beginning with the Poor Law unions, reflected an unsatisfactory compromise between Whigs and Tories, who could both see the need for some measure of modernisation and were, with the exception of the philosophical radicals, opposed to centralisation, but were not willing to give powers to the opposing faction. This chapter focuses on the ad hoc local governments of mid-Victorian Britain and explores the failure of central control of the Poor Law, the Public Health Acts, roads and highways, education boards, police and prisons, the financing of local government and the formation of the Local Government Board.

Keywords: Britain; local government; compromise; Poor Law; Public Health Acts; roads; education boards; prisons; financing; Local Government Board

Chapter.  9743 words. 

Subjects: UK Politics

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