Accessible Democracy, Adaptable Rights, and London’s Expansion During the Industrial Revolution
21 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2009
Date Written: July, 31 2009
London’s eighteenth-century expansion required the reorganization of rights for large tracts of land. This property previously lay within equitable estates and agricultural villages. Removing property from these restrictive property-rights regimes proved problematic. Parliament catalyzed the process by passing acts reorganizing rights to land and resources. Two theories characterize Parliament’s behavior during this period. The first views Parliament as an organization that limited access to acts in order to earn rents for legislators or to advance the interests of aristocrats. The second views Parliament as an accessible institution that addressed issues brought before it by broad segments of society. We test these theories using time-series statistical methods and annual data on the number of acts passed by Parliament and the property market in Middlesex, the county surrounding London. The results are consistent with the conjecture of an accessible legislature.
Keywords: Parliament, Property Rights, Industrial Revolution, Estate
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