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English Reforms

Some of the Acts of Parliament made life worse for the poor. In the conviction that people had to learn to stand on their own feet the Poor Law Amendment Act was passed in 1834; as a result workhouse were built, offering very hard conditions and separating men, women and children in different buildings, in the expectation that people would make an effort to look after themselves.

Working-class reformers saw clearly that their problems could be solved only by working-class representatives in Parliament. Disappointed by the Reform Bill of 1832 which consolidated the power of the middle classes, they issued the People’s Charter (1838) which, among other things, advocated universal male suffrage and vote by secret ballot.
Chartism was born; it was the first real working-class movement and it spread all over the country. Several petitions were presented to Parliament to get the Charter accepted, but they were rejected, and in 1848 the movement came to an end. However, it was not a failure because it inspired trade unions, cooperatives and leagues, and with time many of the demands were accepted and the right to vote gradually enlarged.
In 1850 and in 1860 unions of skilled workers began to grow, and in 1868 they joined together to start the Trades Union Congress (TUC). In 1893 the Independent Labor Party was formed. Election took the name of Labor Party.

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