Lord Melbourne becomes Prime Minister for the second time

After the resignation of Sir Robert Peel following a series of defeats in the House of Commons, Lord Melbourne returns to office. Many members of the cabinet had served in Melbourne’s first administration of the previous year and included Lord Palmerston (Foreign Secretary), Lord John Russell (Home Secretary), Thomas Spring Rice (Chancellor of the Exchequer) and John Cam Hobhouse (President of the Board of Control). Often criticised for its lack of legislative achievement, Melbourne’s administration did pass some notable legislation including the Tithe Commutation Act, the Dissenters Marriage Act and, most importantly, the Municipal Corporations Act which created a network of elected boroughs able to raise rates and which gave the opportunity for nonconformists to increase their power in many of the industrial towns and cities.