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How Democratic Was Britain By 1914?

967 words - 4 pages

How democratic was Britain by 1914?Britain was a democracy to a certain extent by 1914.By "a democracy" we mean that there should be several certain features present. These features consist of universal adult suffrage, equal constituencies, every adult being able to stand as a candidate, a secret ballot, regular elections, a choice of political parties and freedom of speech/press. There is a debate over when exactly Britain actually became a representative liberal democracy. This essay will show that by 1914 Britain was not yet fully a democracy, but well on its way.One factor that helped Britain on its road towards democracy was the large extension of the franchise. The Second Reform Act in ...view middle of the document...

The number of MP's was increased from 652 to 670. Equalising the constituencies was an important factor in Britain becoming more democratic by 1914.Before 1858 there were rules and regulations which had to be met before you could consider becoming an MP. You had to own certain amounts of land and be considerably wealthy. Many MP's were also sons of men high up in Government or the sons of pervious MP's. A further move towards democracy was addressing the rules surrounding MP's. By 1858 they no longer required a property qualification to stand and the 1911 Payment of MP's Act meant the working class could now stand. This moved Britain closer to democracy because by 1914 even more people now had an opportunity to stand as a candidate.An even further step towards Britain becoming more democratic was the reduction of the House of Lords. The 1911 Parliament Act now saw the House of Lords no longer having a veto on money bills and their power to delay bills was reduced to two parliamentary sessions. This was a significant step towards democracy by 1914 because the House of Lords was un-elected and it's powers had at least been reduced, but by 1914 the un-elected House of Lords still existed and had some power.Addressing the problem of anti-corruption was another move that Britain made towards democracy. The 1872 Ballot Act meant that there was now a secret ballot. This reduced the threat of bribery and intimidation declined, although it took a further measure from the Liberals in 1883 before corruption was fully dealt with. The 1883 Corrupt and Illegal Practices Act meant there was now laws on what MP's election funds could be spent on, their spending had to be accounted for and they could face...

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