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Vol 23 No 5 May/June 2018

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Drafting Commercial Agreements

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Governments, Labour, and the Law in Mid-Victorian Britain

ISBN13: 9780199268894
ISBN: 0199268894
Published: May 2005
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Format: Hardback
Price: £135.00

This is a study of how governments and their specialist advisers, in an age of free trade and the minimal state, attempted to create a viable legal framework for trade unions and strikes. It traces the collapse, in the face of judicial interventions, of the regime for collective labour devised by the Liberal Tories in the 1820s, following the repeal of the Combination Acts. The new arrangements enacted in the 1870s allowed collective labour unparalleled freedoms, contended by the newly-founded Trades Union Congress. This book seeks to reinstate the view from government into an account of how the settlement was brought about, tracing the emergence of an official view - largely independent of external pressure - which favoured withdrawing the criminal law from peaceful industrial relations and allowing a virtually unrestricted freedom to combine. It reviews the impact upon the Home Office's specialist advisers of contemporary intellectual trends, such as the assaults upon classical and political economy and the historicized critiques of labour law developed by Liberal writers. Curthoys offers an historical context for the major court decisions affecting the security of trade union fu;upon classical political economy, and of the historicized critiques of labour law developed by Liberal writers. As contending views of 'free trade' and 'free labour' came into collision, an official view was formed which favoured allowing an unrestricted freedom to combine and sought to withraw the;criminal law from peaceful industrial relations.

Introduction; 1. After the Combination Acts; 2. 'Under sufferance': Unions Outside the Law, 1825-1866; 3. Union Funds, Free Labour, and the Franchise; 4. Reconciling Unions and the Law; 5. Unions Legalized; 6. The Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1871; 7. The Gas Stokers' Case and the Right to Strike; 8. A Benthamite Solution; 9. 'The workmen's victory'?; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index