From the end of the eighteenth century, the question of the people’s health in Britain became bound to the changing role of the state in the transition to an industrial society. The British state explored new directions for the relief of poverty and distress which relied on the Victorian expansion of voluntary effort to provide services in health, education and housing. The mixed economy of social welfare in Britain reflected the values of a society which wished to keep the size of the state to a minimum. The creation of a public health system in Britain was founded upon a political economic philosophy which intended to use statutory regulation to enhance the free operation of market relations. Reducing the cost of destitution and poverty by preventing the premature mortality of breadwinners was one feature of a new theory of government which asserted that efficiency and justice could be obtained through the scientific and rational organization of the affairs of state.