The Board of Trade
, originally the Lords of Trade and Plantations
or Lords of Trade
, is a committee of the Privy Council
of the United Kingdom. It was first established as a temporary committee of England's Privy Council to advise on colonial (plantation) questions in the early 17th century, when these settlements were initially forming. The Board would evolve gradually into a government department with considerable power and a diverse range of functions, including regulation of domestic and foreign
commerce, the development, implementation and interpretation of the Acts of Trade and Navigation
, and the review and acceptance
of legislation passed in the colonies. Between 1696 and 1782 the Board of Trade, in partnership with the various secretaries of state over that time, held responsible for colonial affairs, particularly in British America. The Home Secretary held colonial responsibility until 1801 when the Secretary of State
for War and the Colonies was established.
Between 1768 and 1782 while with the Secretary of State for the Colonies, whose secretaryship was held jointly with the presidency of the Board of Trade, the latter position remained largely vacant; this led to a diminished status of the board and it became an adjunct to the new Department and Ministry concerns. Following the loss of the American War of Independence, both the board and the short-lived secretaryship were dismissed by the king on 2 May 1782 and the board was abolished later by the Civil List
Service Money Act 1782 (22 Geo. III, c 82).
Following the Treaty of Paris 1783, with the continuing need to regulate trade between its remaining colonies, the independent United States and all other countries, a new Committee of Council on Trade and Plantations (later known as 'the First Committee') was established by William Pitt the Younger. Initially mandated by an order in Council on 5 March 1784, the committee was reconstructed and strengthened by a second order, on 23 August 1786, under which it operated for the rest of its existence. The committee has been known as the Board of Trade since 1786, but this name was only officially adopted by an act of 1861. The new Board's first functions were consultative like earlier iterations, and its concern with plantations, in matters such as the approval of colonial laws
, more successfully accomplished
. As the industrial revolution
expanded, the board's work became increasingly executive and domestic and from the 1840s a succession
of acts of parliament gave it regulatory duties, notably concerning railways, merchant shipping, and joint stock companies.
This department was merged with the Ministry of Technology in 1970 to form the Department of Trade and Industry. The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (from 2009 Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills) was also President of the Board of Trade. The full Board has met only once since the mid-20th century, during commemorations of the bicentenary of the Board in 1986. In 2016 the role of President of the Board of Trade was transferred to the Secretary of State for International Trade