Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Laisser-Faire Made The Industrial Revolution Possible

The Tudors ruled England from 1485 to 1603. The Stuarts ruled Scotland from 1371 to 1603 and England as well from 1603 to 1701. The Tudor Industrial Code and Statute of Artificers were laws passed from 1558 to 1563 that replaced previous feudal guild regulation of crafts and modified the Statutes of Labourers, which were passed from 1350 to 1562 and repealed in 1714. The last statement of the Statute of Laborers was passed under Queen Elizabeth in 1562 and was called the Statute of Apprentices. The Ordinances of Laborers passed from 1350 to 1562 included restrictions on the freedom of serfs, fixed wages for laborers, prohibited hiring by the week, and gave justices the power to regulate wages. The Statute of Artificers also regulated labor, set wages, established training standards and regulated apprenticeships.

TS Ashton writes

"The belief that the Tudors and Stuarts had a consistent plan for the conduct of economic relations dies hard. The regulation of wages, employment, technical training, industrial location, prices and commerce established by them was in fact less generous, less enlightened and less systematic than is sometimes supposed. However that may be, the diminution of the powers of the Crown and the weakening of the Privy Council in the seventeenth century meant that some at least of the instruments of control were allowed to rust. At the same time the rise of wider markets, more elaborate techniques, and more specialized types of labor must have made the task of detailed supervision difficult indeed. Even if there had been no Civil War, no political power, central direction must almost certainly have broken down. For more than a hundred years before the industrial revolution the State was in retreat from the economic field."

T.S. Ashton, The Industrial Revolution. London: Oxford University Books, 1948. p. 138.

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