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Industrial and Provident Societies Partnership Act 1852

The Industrial and Provident Societies Partnership Act 1852, also known (somewhat unjustifiably) as Slaney's Act,[1] was a significant legislative landmark in the establishment of the Co-Operative movement in the United Kingdom.


Prior to 1852, co-operative societies had protected their members capital by registering under the Friendly Societies Act 1846.[2] However the act specified protection only for purchases, not for sales; so the co-operative societies were forced to use a legal fiction of dubious merit to cover themselves when selling, and it was this that brought home the need for a new statute to regularise their position.[3]


John Ludlow played an important role in promoting the Act of 1852.[4] He had initially proposed a comparable Bill for Whig passage in 1851; but was blocked by Henry Labouchere at the Board of Trade.[5] The following year Disraeli persuaded his colleagues that promoting such social reform would be politically advantageous for the Tories, as well as offering a route for working-class energies to be incorporated into society;[6] and the Bill passed into law.

The Act not only provided a legal framework for the co-operative movement, but also specified much of its future direction - for example laying down the principle that up to 1/3rd of profits could be shared among members, the rest being used to build up the business.[7]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ C Raven, Christian Socialism, 1848-1854 (1968) p. 289
  2. ^ E Halévy, Victorian Years (London 1961) p. 267
  3. ^ E Halévy, Victorian Years (London 1961) p. 267
  4. ^ I. Ousby ed, The Cambridge Guide to Literature in English (Cambridge 1995) p. 176
  5. ^ E Halévy, Victorian Years (London 1961) p. 263
  6. ^ M Brasher, Arguments in History: 19th C Britain (1968) p. 146
  7. ^ D McDonnell, Democratic Enterprises (2012) p. 70

Further readingEdit

  • Ch. Kingsley, Life and Memories () Vol i