The (perhaps ironic) idea that national debt can be a source of "prosperity" was espoused by both Sir Robert Peel, First Baronet - a prominent industrialist and one of the richest textile manufacturers in England - as well as his son, Sir Robert Peel, Second Baronet, who would later become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (Dec 10, 1834-April 8, 1835 and then again August 30, 1841 to June 29, 1846). Such an idea could clearly only originate with the bankers, and it is clear that the Peels (both father and especially son) were in close cahouts w/ the banking establishment of the country.
Sir Robert Peel (the prime minister) is most famous for the following:
- The establishment of a police force, in the modern sense of the word
- The repeal of the Corn Laws
It's noteworthy that Peel likewise took an interest in genetics (and probably eugenics). He is credited with the development of the Tamworth Pig
Sir Robert Peel
Peel was considered one of the rising stars of the Tory Party, first entering the cabinet in 1822 as Home Secretary. As Home Secretary, he introduced a number of important reforms of British criminal law:
- Established the Metropolitan Police Force (Metropolitan Police Act 1829)
- Changed the Penal Code reducing the number of crimes punishable by death
- Reformed the gaol system, introducing payment for gaolers and education for the inmates
The police force deserves more mention: Metropolitan Police Force for London, based at Scotland Yard. The 1,000 constables employed were affectionately nicknamed "Bobbies" (or "Peelers", both terms are still used today). Although at first unpopular, they proved successful in cutting crime in London, and by 1835 all cities in the UK were being directed to form their own police forces. In fact, the authorities in Stalybridge, Cheshire had set up their own police force some two years earlier and so Peel was aware of this success of "police forces" before he "introduced" them in London. The city of Glasgow, Scotland had also had its own police force since 1800.
In this regard (police forces) Peel also established what were called the Peelian Principles, which defined the ethical requirements police officers must follow in order to be effective. The most memorable principle was: the police are the public, and the public are the police.
Think about that next time the police talk about "serving and protecting the public(!)" Some things Peel stated include:
- Every police officer should be issued a badge number, to assure accountability for his actions.
- Whether the police are effective is not measured on the number of arrests, but on the lack of crime.
- Above all else, an effective authority figure knows trust and accountability are paramount.
The Peelian (Police) Principles are:
- The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder.
- The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon the public approval of police actions.
- Police must secure the willing cooperation of the public in voluntary observation of the law to be able to secure and maintain the respect of the public.
- The degree of cooperation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force.
- Police seek and preserve public favor not by catering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.
- Police use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insuffiicent.
- Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent upon every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.
- Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions, and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary.
- The test of police efficiency is the abscence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.
Some authors claim there is no evidence that Peel ever actually authored such a list, and that it was constructed by later, 20th century authors writing about Peel.Corn Laws
The most notable act of Peel's second ministry, however, was the one that would bring it down. This time Peel moved against the landholders by repealing the Corn Laws, which supported agricultural revenues by restricting grain imports. This radical break with Conservative protectionism was connected with the Great Irish Famine (1845-1849). At first sceptical of the extent of the problem, Peel reacted slowly to the famine(?) Some claim that Peel was an intellectual convert to free trade since the 1820s.
Repeal of the Corn Laws
Some background on the Corn Laws: a Corn Law was first introduced in Britain in 1804, when the landowners, who dominated Parliament, sought to protect their profits by imposing a duty on imported corn. During the Napoleonic Wars, it had not been possible to import corn from Europe. This led to an expansion of British wheat farming and to high bread prices.
Farmers feared that when the war came to end in 1815, the importation of foreign corn would lower prices. This fear was justified and the price of corn reached fell from 126. 6d a quarter in 1812 to 65s.7d three years later. British landowners applied pressure on members of the House of Commons to take action to protect the profits of the farmers. Parliament responded by passing a law permitting the import of foreign wheat free of duty only when the domestic price reached 80 shillings per quarter (8 bushels). During the passing of this legislation, Parliament had to be defended by armed troops against a large angry crowd.
This legislation was hated by the people living in Britain's fast-growing towns who had to pay these higher bread prices. The industrial classes saw the Corn Laws as an example of how Parliament passed legislation that favored large landowners. The manufacturers in particular was concerned that the Corn Laws would result in a demand for higher wages.
In 1828, William Huskisson sought to relieve the distressed caused by the high price of bread by introducing a sliding scale of duties according to price. A trade depression in 1839 and a series of bad harvests created a great deal of anger towards the Corn Laws. The Irish famine caused people to rethink this, and eventually Peel was won over and the Corn Law was repealed.