Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 148,103 pages of information and 233,633 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Board of Trade

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1965. S. M. Davenport.

1696 The Council of Trade and Foreign Plantations was appointed by the Crown. It was composed of various unsalaried ex officio Commissioners who were not expected to attend the Board regularly and a certain number of paid Commissioners to whom the conduct of business was entrusted.[1]

From 1696 to 1782 colonial affairs were the responsibility of the Board of Trade and the secretaries of state in partnership. Thereafter, the Home Office held responsibility until 1801 when the War and Colonial Department was established.

1784 The need to regulate trade between Great Britain, the remaining British colonies and the independent United States of America, and between Britain and France, led William Pitt to establish a new Committee of the Privy Council on Trade and Plantations. To strengthen this committee he reconstructed it by a second order, of 23 August 1786, under which it operated for the rest of its existence. This committee has been known as the Board of Trade since 1786.

1785 It was proposed to abolish the Board of Trade as Lord Sydney refused to accommodate the Board in his department. However this raised questions about whether government should have an office responsible for commercial matters with foreign powers [2]

1786 The office of the President of the Board of Trade was created. The President was unpaid until 1826 when a salary of £2000 was provided.

1794 In Mr Pitt's new Cabinet, Lord Hawkesbury became President of the Board of Trade[3]

As the industrial revolution progressed, the Board's work became increasingly executive and domestic.

From the 1840s a succession of acts of parliament gave it regulatory duties, notably concerning railways, merchant shipping, and joint stock companies. To deal with these new functions specialised branches were developed, while the remaining business was transacted until 1863 by a Commercial (also called General) Department.

1861 The title of the Board of Trade was adopted officially by an Act of Parliament.

During the 19th and 20th centuries the Board acquired many new responsibilities and underwent periodic reorganization.

1903 Responsibility for fisheries was transferred to the Board of Agriculture.

1917 Responsibility for labour functions was transferred to the Ministry of Labour.

1919 after the end of the First World War responsibility for railways was transferred to the Ministry of Transport.

1939 Responsibility for merchant shipping was transferred to the Ministry of Shipping.

1942 Responsibility for fuel and power was transferred to the Ministry of Fuel and Power.

By the 1960s the Board's responsibilities included a general responsibility for commerce, industry and overseas trade and in particular commercial relations with other countries; imports and exports; tariffs; industrial development; consumer protection; tourism; and statistics of trade and industry at home and abroad, including censuses of production and distribution.

The board was also responsible for government relations with all industries not specifically the concern of other departments. It also had supervisory or regulatory duties concerning patents, designs and trademarks and copyright; weights and measures; merchandise marks; companies; bankruptcy; insurance; the distribution of industry; films; and enemy property.

1965 The Board regained responsibility for merchant shipping

1966 Acquired responsibility for civil aviation from the Ministry of Aviation.

1969 Responsibility for the distribution of industry and the sponsorship of individual industries was transferred to the Ministry of Technology.

1969 Responsibility for certain productivity services and for control over monopolies, mergers, and restrictive practices was transferred to the Department of Employment and Productivity.

1970 Merged into the new Department of Trade and Industry

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. British History online [1]
  2. The Times Jan 07, 1785
  3. The Times (London, England), Wednesday, Jul 09, 1794
  • National Archives [2]