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The Waning of ‘Old Corruption’The Politics of Economical Reform in Britain, 1779-1846$
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Philip Harling

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198205760

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205760.001.0001

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Conservative Disinterestedness, 1841–1846

Conservative Disinterestedness, 1841–1846

(p.228) 7 Conservative Disinterestedness, 1841–1846
The Waning of ‘Old Corruption’


Oxford University Press

The ministry of British Prime Minister Robert Peel marked the acme of Pitt-style conservatism. Like its Tory predecessors, its chief concern was to defend executive authority against pressure from within Parliament and from public opinion without. Peel and his colleagues felt that Whig activism had encouraged dangerous popular expectations of government intervention, and they were loath to sanction positive interference to ameliorate social injustice. They were too authoritarian to encourage the belief that the central government should promote a broad notion of the rights of citizenship. Peel's remarkably punctilious notion of the proper uses of office indicated that ministers themselves had finally come to adhere to a rigorous ethic of public service in the spheres of financial and economic policy, Peel sought to live up to the same image of responsible management that characterized his attitude towards emoluments and patronage.

Keywords:   Robert Peel, conservatism, parliament, public activism, political patronage

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