Why did the British government scrap the ‘Corn Laws’? What were its effects on Britain?

  • Population growth from the late 18th century had increased the demand for food grains in Britain.
  • As urban centres expanded and industries grew, the demand for agricultural products increased, pushing up food grain prices.
  • Under pressure from landed groups, the government also restricted the import of corn.
  • The laws allowing the government to do this were commonly known as ‘Corn Laws’.
  • Unhappy with high food prices, industrialists and urban dwellers forced the abolition of the Corn Laws.


  • After the Corn Laws were scrapped, food could be imported into Britain more cheaply than it could be produced within the country.
  • British agriculture was unable to compete with imports.
  • Vast areas of land were now left uncultivated and thousands of men and women were thrown out of work. They flocked the cities or migrated overseas.