Assess the Reasons for the Varied Success of Pitt’s Reforms Up to 1793.

Topics: Tax, William Pitt the Younger, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Pages: 2 (892 words) Published: May 3, 2008
When William Pitt came to be prime minister in 1783, Britain was in a state of serious depression after the American War, and therefore needed reform and change. Pitt recognized the countries requirements and attempted to bring about several different types of reforms to all aspects of British life. His reforms had varied success due to many different factors, such as the public opinion, the desires of members in parliament, and also the king. Some of Pitt’s reforms proved very successful in bringing Britain back in to a prosperous position after the American war, while others lacked popularity and failed. The reasons for these varied successes are vast and there are many different aspects as to why some succeeded while others failed. A key reason as to why a number of Pitt’s reforms succeeded during his first ten years as first minister were due to Pitt’s rapidly acquired, detailed knowledge of the country’s administrative machinery. Pitt had a great understanding of the way in which Britain worked and successfully planned and carried out his reforms according to this insight. In 1783 the government expenditure exceeded income by over £10 million and there was a total collapse of confidence in the government due to the huge national debt. Pitt recognized this and made it his first priority to raise national revenue and increase the confidence of the people. Several of Pitt’s reforms were extremely successful due to this deep understanding Pitt had, and he managed to base many of his reforms on it. Pitt successfully passed the “Commutation Act” in 1784 which reduced the duty on tea, wines, spirits and other general products. This discouraged much of the smuggling which was taking place in and out of Britain, for there was less of an incentive to smuggle with such low taxation. Pitt managed to reduce smuggling a great deal with the Commutation Act and also by extending rights of search over suspect cargoes. By 1790 the yield to the government on wines had...
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