HC Deb 21 January 1897 vol 45 cc194-5

I beg to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has taken into consideration the advisability of codifying the Acts relating to the Income Tax; and, if so, with what result?


I should be very glad that these Acts should be codified, but measures of consolidation cannot possibly be passed unless it is clearly recognised by Members of both Houses that they are uncontentious, and that Amendments altering the Law cannot be discussed. The House Tax Consolidation Bill had to be dropped last Session owing to its being treated as a contentious measure, and until I am able to judge whether this discouraging experience will be repeated I cannot set on foot a work of such labour as the consolidation of the Income Tax Law.


I beg to ask the Attorney General for Ireland how it happens that, whereas Bills are introduced and passed every year codifying Acts of Parliament relating to England, nothing is ever done towards consolidating Acts relating to Ireland; whether his attention has been called to the following Irish Acts, all non-contentious in their character, which might with great advantage be (respectively) consolidated: the County Courts Acts, the Drainage and Improvement of Land Acts, the Fishery Acts, the Labourers Acts, the Land Purchase Acts, the Landed Property Improvement Acts, the Lunacy Acts, the Municipal Corporations Acts, the Poor Law Acts, the Public Works Acts, and the Tramways Acts; who has the direction of the work of consolidating Acts of Parliament; and, whether the same authority regulates the matter for England and Ireland?


The question is incorrect in assuming that nothing has been done towards consolidating Acts relating to Ireland. On the contrary, of the 24 consolidating Bills passed in 1888 relating to England, 19 relate to Ireland as well. Bills are in preparation to consolidate several of the Acts mentioned in the question; but, owing to the limited staff of the Irish Office (there being only one draftsman) it has not yet been found possible to introduce them. I may add that I cannot admit that all the Acts mentioned in the question are non-contentious in their character. I am informed that in England the Statute Law Committee lay before the Lord Chancellor from time to time suggestions as to consolidating statutes, and if the suggestions are adopted the work is generally carried out by Treasury draftsmen in any time which can be spared from the current work of legislation. There is no authority, so far as I can ascertain, which has special direction of the work of consolidating Acts in England and Ireland.