In the 1860s Trades Councils were established in most of Britain's main industrial towns and cities. In 1868 leaders of these Trade Councils met in Manchester to discuss the possibility of forming an organisation that would provide a united voice in defence of trade union rights. At the meeting the 34 delegates agreed to establish the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and to hold a meeting every year to discuss issues of importance to the labour movement.
At the third Trade Union Congress in London in 1871 a Parliamentary Committee was appointed. Its purpose was to bring pressure on MPs to amend the 1871 Trade Union Act. In the 1874 General Election the Parliamentary Committee asked candidates certain questions on their attitudes to trade unions, and members were urged to vote for or against them on the basis of their replies. Those MPs elected in 1874 included two miners, Alexander MacDonald and Thomas Burt, who fully supported the policies of the TUC.
In 1896 Robert Smillie president of the Scottish Miners' Federation helped establish the Scottish Trade Union Congress. His role was recognised when he was elected chairman at its first conference, a post he was to hold until 1899. The Scottish TUC was more radical than the English TUC with many of its leaders being members of the Independent Labour Party.
On 27th February 1900, the Trade Union Congress and representatives of all the socialist groups in Britain (the Independent Labour Party, the Social Democratic Federation and the Fabian Society,) met at the Memorial Hall in Farringdon Street, London. After a debate the 129 delegates decided to pass a motion put forward by James Keir Hardie to establish "a distinct Labour group in Parliament, who shall have their own whips, and agree upon their policy, which must embrace a readiness to cooperate with any party which for the time being may be engaged in promoting legislation in the direct interests of labour." To make this possible the Conference established a Labour Representation Committee (LRC).
The LRC committee established in 1900 included seven trade unionists and two members from the Independent Labour Party, two from the Social Democratic Federation, one member of the Fabian Society. After the 1906 General Election the LRC became known as the Labour Party.