By N. H. Brasher (auth.)
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Extra info for Arguments in History: Britain in the Nineteenth Century
Central control was established by the setting up of a Poor Law department consisting of three Commissioners and a secretary, all paid. These Commissioners had the right to appoint Assistant Commissioners and clerical staff. Chadwick was no doubt satisfied with his successful introduction of Benthamite administrative methods, but even on that score there was a serious omission. Bentham had strongly advocated the scientific study of social conditions as a necessary prelude to legislation; in 1834 this had not been done.
Political office was quickly attained. Having served briefly as Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies in Spencer Perceval's Government, he became Chief Secretary for Ireland when Lord Liverpool became Prime Minister in 1812. Peel was then aged twentyfour. The Irish Catholics were violently hostile to the Act of Union, which had put them under the rule of a Protestant Parliament, and showed their feelings by mob violence. The situation was a stern test for so young a man but Peel, at the cost of nervous exhaustion which forced him to abandon the appointment in 1818, was able to restore order, using a minimum of force.
Nor was Peel blind to the fact that the reforms were adding substantially to his political stature. These reforms he hoped would be remembered by posterity; the Londoners' nickname 'Peelers' for the police set up by Peel's Metropolitan Police Act of 1829 was a slight but significant indication of the people's acceptance of Peel as a national figure. Peel, in short, had now completed his political apprenticeship, and was ready for the highest office. By coincidence the same year, 1829, witnessed his heart-searching on the issue of Catholic emancipation, the first of the major conflicts of conscience with which Peel was to be confronted in the years between 1829 and his downfall in 1846.
Arguments in History: Britain in the Nineteenth Century by N. H. Brasher (auth.)