Interventionism and Laissez-faire in Practice
THE view that the nineteenth century was an age of laissez-faire rests at the last on an analysis of the policies and activities of governments. In particular it has tended to be based on an examination of government policy in certain major fields of public concern. It is proposed to bring six of these fields under scrutiny. The areas chosen for investigation are important both in that they touched the interests of the community widely and deeply, and in that the discussions of policy brought sharp controversy into nineteenth-century political life. Two of the areas are essentially economic in character (free trade and the railways); two straddle the margin between the economic and the social (factory reform and Poor Law reform); and two are predominantly social (public health and education).
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