|Repealed by||Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1974|
Trade Union Act 1871 (34 & 35 Vict c 31) was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which legalised trade unions for the first time in the United Kingdom. This was one of the founding pieces of legislation in UK labour law, though it has today been superseded by the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.
The Conservative Prime Minister, the Earl of Derby, set up a Royal Commission on Trade Unions in 1867. One worker representative was on the commission, Frederic Harrison, who prepared union witnesses. Robert Applegarth from the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners was a union observer of the proceedings.
The majority report of the Commission was hostile to the idea of decriminalising trade unions. Frederic Harrison, Thomas Hughes and the Earl of Lichfield produced their own minority report, recommending the following changes in the law:
When William Ewart Gladstone's new government came to power, the Trade Union Congress campaigned for the minority report, made under the leadership of Sir William Erle, to be adopted. It was successful.
In its passage through Parliament, Mr Bruce introduced the First Reading of the Bill, quoting the Minority Report.
The Act was fully repealed by the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1974.