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Municipal Corporations Act

Municipal Corporations Act, 1835. A corollary to the 1832 parliamentary reform was local government reform. As with the Poor Law, the Whigs prepared the way with a royal commission to investigate the existing municipalities. This apparent willingness to precede reform by systematic inquiry was less than complete. The well-paid post as secretary to the royal commission went to the government's principal electoral manipulator, Joseph Parkes, whose conduct of the inquiry was partisan. The subsequent Act swept away the existing heterogeneous borough constitutions and replaced them by a standard form of councils consisting of mayor, aldermen, and councillors elected by ratepayers. Provision was made for the establishment of the same system in urban areas like Manchester and Birmingham which were without proper municipal institutions, if local ratepayers approved. The powers of the new councils were narrowly limited and few of them showed much inclination to spend ratepayers' money in expensive schemes of local improvement.

Norman McCord

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