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Peel's Speech in the House of Commons, 1832

Sir Robert Peel opposed the introduction of a Reform Act from the beginning of the campaign to the last vote in the House of Commons. In this extract, he explains why.

It is my duty to support the Crown... and the support I give is dictated by principles perfectly independent and disinterested... I have no desire to replace the Honourable Gentlemen opposite. I have wished to give them my support, from increased confidence in them as public men; but I regret to way, that I am unable to do so. I give them my support on public grounds, as Ministers of the Crown who want it. I mean no disrespect to the House - but I think, as I have thought from the beginning - the great change which has been made in its composition required a change in the conduct of the public men who were disposed to agree with me in politics... When the House of Commons was divided between two great parties - one of them in power and the other not, but confident in its principles - it was natural and right that they should adopt those tactics which might have the effect of displacing their opponents ... But circumstances have now changed and I do not feel myself at liberty, holding the opinions that I do, now to resort to what may have been, at other seasons, the necessary and legitimate tactics of party. When I see the government disposed to maintain the rights of property, the authority of the law, and, in a qualified sense, the established order of things against rash innovation, I shall without regard to party feelings, deem it my duty to range myself on their side... Believing it would be a public misfortune in the present crisis of the country that the hands of the government should be weak, it is my determination to strengthen them as much as possible.

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Last modified 4 March, 2016

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