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Governments, Labour, and the Law in Mid-Victorian BritainThe Trade Union Legislation of the 1870s$
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Mark Curthoys

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199268894

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199268894.001.0001

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Reforming Labour Law, 1873–1874

Reforming Labour Law, 1873–1874

(p.189) 8 Reforming Labour Law, 1873–1874
Governments, Labour, and the Law in Mid-Victorian Britain


Oxford University Press

Robert Lowe, who became secretary of the Home Office of Britain in August 1873, prepared a comprehensive settlement of the Trades Union Congress's (TUC) grievances during his brief tenure by drafting a bill reforming the labour laws. First to be subjected to Lowe's scrutiny was the law of conspiracy; he wanted to confine the offence of conspiracy to its principal useful function, ‘the power to punish a crime where the proof of its commission is defective’. Lowe's approach to the Criminal Law Amendment Act (CLAA) was equally sweeping. Lowe's solution was to make the offences enumerated in the CLAA apply generally, rather than only to the circumstance of trade unions and strikes. He also proposed the total repeal of the criminal clauses of the Master and Servant Act.

Keywords:   Robert Lowe, Britain, labour laws, law of conspiracy, Criminal Law Amendment Act, Master and Servant Act, strikes, trade unions

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