taxation as the basis of local government funding. Other laws were
passed giving parishes duties such as the maintenance of highways.
The Industrial Revolution, which started in the later 18th century,
created a number of pressures for political and democratic reform.
In parallel, the development of great manufacturing and port cities
such as Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Leeds, Sheffield and
Newcastle-upon-Tyne generated demands for better and more
comprehensive local government. Many of these cities were at the
centre of a large metropolitan hinterland of smaller cities and towns.
Major democratic reforms took place in 1832 and 1835. The 1832
Reform Act required the House of Commons to be elected on the
basis of new constituencies and a widened electorate. Former
corrupt practices were abolished. The Municipal Corporations Act
1835 stipulated that members of town councils should be elected.
Boroughs now had to hold elections. Some older ones disappeared,
while new ones could petition to be incorporated as boroughs. The
rapidly growing industrial cities such as Manchester, Birmingham,
Liverpool and Leeds immediately took advantage of the new law,
gaining powers and the right to set local property tax. During the
19th century, reforms were also made to the administration of the
Elizabethan Poor Law and to improve public health, though these
functions were undertaken by separate administrative institutions.
By 1888, cities had well-developed local government, although
county areas were still governed by unelected officials and parishes
were generally undemocratic and under-powered. The Local
Government Act 1888 created administrative counties, broadly based
on the historic ones which had their origins in Anglo-Saxon England.
Larger borough councils were allowed to continue to be self-governing,
thus creating different arrangements for urban and more
rural areas. In 1894, a second tier of ‘district’ councils was created
to take over and expand former parish duties. In London, the 1888
reform created a single, city-wide, county, while an 1899 law created
a second tier of metropolitan boroughs. Elected school boards were
also created towards the end of the 19th century.