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History During the 1860s the most serious issue that faced parliament was that of parliamentary reform This is somewhat surprising as a Parliamentary Reform Act had been passed as recently as 1832 However this act was limited in its impact and since then since then much had changed The main causes of the re-emergence of the need for further parliamentary reform were firstly demography the population had risen from 24m to 29m between 1831 and 1861 also people had continued to move into the new industrial areas without any re-drawing of the constituent boundaries Secondly there were radicals both inside and outside parliament led by John Bright During 1858 and 1859 he campaigned for change thus leading people into believing in parliamentary reform This gave birth to the formation of reform leagues and the campaigning of trade unions Furthermore there was the death of Palmerston in 1865 who was very popular and very powerful and had always succeeded in keeping a tight rein on the radicals in parliament Also the American civil war between 1961 and 1865 focused people on the idea of freedom and democracy Knowing all these factors Gladstone began to believe in parliamentary reform particularly in extending the franchise saying how the working classes had the moral right to come within the pale of the constitution In 1866 he introduced a parliamentary reform bill to expand the electorate to incorporate an extra 400000 voters by lowering the financial qualification level However at this time the Liberals were divided into three main sectors the radicals the Whigs and those in support of Gladstonian Liberalism and opposition to the bill was widespread within the party The radicals were staunchly opposed to it as it was deemed not to be radical enough and the Whigs believed it to be too radical
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