BAKERIES, DEREGULATION OF, an important aspect of the free trade policy of the Second Empire. Because of the ever-present possibility of poor harvests, shortages of grain, and skyrocketing bread prices, there had developed in France from 1789 a body of regulations controlling every aspect of the bakeries industry and notably requiring state authorization in order to follow the trade and to open or to close a bakery. Reform had been discussed during the July Monarchy, but no changes had resulted. At the beginning of the Second Empire, a disastrous harvest ( 1853) led to a tightening of regulations (decree of 1 November 1854) and to the establishment by Georges Haussmann, prefect of the Seine, of a caisse de boulangerie for Paris and region (decrees of 27 December 1853 and of 7 January 1854), designed to keep bread prices stable through a system of taxation and of subsidies. The food crisis continued, although somewhat abated, until 1856 and led to the suspension ( 1853 and 1859) of the échelle mobile (a sliding scale of tariffs on imported agricultural products), which was subsequently abolished and replaced by a law of 15 June 1861 setting a single low duty. This led, in turn, to the ending of the tax on bread, the application of which had, in large part, necessitated the regulation of the industry.
These events added to the growing pressure for liberation of the bakeries. Already, by decree of 24 February 1858, regulation of the butcheries had been ended, and the Second Empire would also see the deregulation of taxi driving. As a result of measures proposed by the municipal commission of Paris, the Conseil d'Etat conducted an inquiry from June to July 1859 into the bakeries industry, during which Jules Baroche, minister presiding the Conseil d'Etat, and Frédéric Le Play argued for deregulation. Another bad harvest in 1861 interrupted the momentum of reform, but in 1862 Eugène Rouher, minister of agriculture, commerce, and public works from 3 February 1855 to 23 June 1863, entered the lists. Together he and Baroche persuaded a reluctant Napoleon III, who presided the two sessions of the conseil that discussed the issue. By decree of 22 June 1863, effective I September, all regulation of the bakeries ended (except for rules relating to public health). Henceforth, the price of bread would be determined by market forces, although the Pariscaisse de boulangerie continued to function in modified form and was active one final time as a consequence of