British History 2:
From the French Revolution to World War II
Topic: "Majesties and Royal Highnesses"

by Laura Cenicola & Mareike Aumann

Glossary: Representation of the People Act of 1884

In the United Kingdom, the Representation of the People Act of 1884 and the Redistribution Act of the following year were a response to the inequality in the electoral system left by Benjamin Disraeli's Reform Act 1867. Taken together, these measures extended the same voting qualifications as existed in the towns to the countryside, and essentially established the modern one member constituency as the normal pattern for Parliamentary representation.

The act extended the 1867 concessions from the boroughs to the countryside. All men paying an annual rental of £10 or all those holding land valued at £10 now had the vote. The British electorate now totalled over 5,500,000. An Act a year later redistributed constituencies, giving more representation to urban areas (especially London).

The 1884 Reform Act did not establish universal suffrage (=the right to vote to all adults, without distinction as to race, sex, belief, intelligence, or economic or social status): although the size of the electorate was widened considerably, 40% of adult males were still without the vote at the time.




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