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The People’s Charter

The People's Charter
© British Council

In nineteenth century Britain, the government mainly looked after the interests of rich people.

The Chartists were a group of people who wanted fairness for working class people. They set out a list of their demands in the People’s Charter of 1838.

Here is a simplified version of the People’s Charter.

Six Things Working Men Want

1. Universal suffrage (the right to vote)

We think all men over the age of 21 should be able to vote, apart from criminals and those who’ve been declared insane.

2. You shouldn’t need to own property to get into parliament

At the moment, you can’t stand for parliament unless you own property. This means that government is made up of upper class men who don’t care for working class interests.

3. We want an annual parliament

We want the chance to vote out governments which aren’t serving us well. At the moment, a government can rule as long as it has a majority of support.

4. Equal representation

We want the United Kingdom to be divided into 300 electoral districts. Each of these should contain an equal number of people. There should be no more than one representative from each district in Parliament.

5. Payment of members

We want MPs to be paid for their work. This means that working class people will be able to do this job too.

6. Vote by secret ballot

We don’t like the way we have to raise our hands when we are voting in public. It means that our employers and landlords can see how we vote, and this sometimes makes us feel scared. Voting should be a private affair.

© British Council
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