HC Deb 21 July 1978 vol 954 cc1104-5

Order for Second Reading read.

3.10 p.m.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Law Officers' Department (Mr. Arthur Davidson)

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

I am happy to ask the House to give a Second Reading to a Bill which I am sure will be widely welcomed by the whole House. It gives effect to the ninth joint report of the Law Commission and the Scottish Law Commission on statute law revision. It continues the programme of consolidation and revision undertaken by the commissions with a view to the general simplification and modernisation of the law.

I am delighted to inform the House that the Bill repeals no fewer than 222 whole Acts of Parliament and parts of 136 Acts and of one Church measure, on the best of all possible grounds—that they are no longer of any practical use. The statutes affected, set out in schedule 1, date from as far back as 1421 and come up to date to as recently as 1977.

A glance through the Bill will indicate that many statutes of immense historical significance are being repealed. Amongst the repeals is that of an Act called the Ministers of the Crown (Parliamentary Secretaries) Act 1960. At first glance, I thought with horror that this might mean repealing Parliamentary Secretaries on the ground that they are obsolete or of no further practical use. I am happy to say that that is not the case. If it was, there would be no one to move these difficult Bills in the House.

Amongst the measures repealed is an Act of 1535. The repeal remedies an injustice done to Sir Thomas More which took away a conveyance on the ground that he had obtained his land in Chelsea by fraudulent means. That measure seems to suggest that in the course of the reign of King Henry VIII there was in existence a "dirty tricks department", and a very effective one at that. It is good that that injustice should be remedied 500 years after the birth of a very distinguished Lord Chancellor.

I am sure that the Bill will be generally welcomed. It is another step on the road to decluttering and decongesting the statute book, and I am sure that for that reason it will receive universal welcome in the House.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time,.

Bill committed to a Committee of the whole House.—[Mr. Graham.]

Bill immediately considered in Committee; reported, without amendment.

Motion made, and Question, That the Bill be now read the Third time, put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 56 (Third Reading), and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed, without amendment.