Portrait of Nassau William Senior

Nassau Senior objected to any government regulation of factories which meant that a horde of inspectors would interfere with the organization of production (1837)

Found in: Letters on the Factory Act

The English economist Nassau Senior (1790-1864) complained in Letters on the Factory Act that one consequence of the new Act of 1833 would be to allow government inspectors to interfere with the smooth running of cotton factories:

Socialism & Interventionism

The “personel” of a large factory is a machine as complicated as its “materiel,” and is, I think, on the whole, the great triumph of Sir R. Arkwright’s genius. In such an establishment from 700 to 1400 persons, of all ages and both sexes, almost all working by the piece, and earning wages of every amount between two shillings and forty shillings a-week, are engaged in producing one ultimate effect, which is dependent on their combined exertions. Any stoppage, even any irregularity in one department, deranges the whole. A strict and almost superstitious discipline is necessary to keep this vast instrument going for a single day. Now how, ask the mill-owners, could this discipline be kept up, if the sub-inspectors were at liberty to walk over our establishments at all hours; listen to the complaints and jealousies of all our servants, and at their instigation summon us as criminals before the magistrates?