Labour Research July 2012

LRD Centenary

Centenary News

July is the month when the Labour Research Department was founded or, to be more precise, when its precursor, the Committee of Inquiry on the Control of Industry, was set up in 1912.

Its purpose was to carry out “research into problems of importance to labour”, according to its constitution.

The Committee was part of the Fabian Society and later became the Fabian Research Department, led by influential figures including socialist economists Beatrice and Sidney Webb, and playwright George Bernard Shaw.

The Monthly Circular, forerunner to Labour Research, was the first of the organisation’s regular publications and was launched in 1917. The following year, the organisation evolved into the Labour Research Department (LRD) and was associated with such luminaries as Quaker philanthropist and chocolate factory owner Joseph Rowntree, and Labour politician and anti-war activist Archibald Fenner Brockway.

In 1930 the Monthly Circular was renamed Labour Research and in 1939 the weekly Fact Service bulletin was launched.

Over the decades, the LRD rolled out a variety of publications and services, some catering for particular audiences within the trade union movement. These included Bargaining Report, a new magazine for negotiators, launched in 1979, which became Workplace Report in 2003; and Safety Rep, launched in 2000.

From the mid-1990s, the LRD’s work became increasingly preoccupied with fulfilling the growing demand for commissioned research from trade unions and labour movement bodies, something that continues to be an important aspect of its work.