HL Deb 11 February 1861 vol 161 cc267-8

presented a Bill having for its object clearing the statute-book of a mass of useless matter, which, he said, was a preliminary stage in the grand work of the consolidation of the statute law. It was not possible to make much progress in that important undertaking without knowing exactly what the statute law was. The Statutes at Large now occupied more than forty most ponderous quarto volumes. In most countries laws that were obsolete, or had gone out of use were considered as repealed, and ceased altogether to be binding; but in this country an Act of Parliament remained in force until it was expressly repealed. Many of these quarto volumes consisted for the greater part of Acts of Parliament now no longer in force, some of which had been repealed by implication, and some had become obsolete by disuse. The object of this Bill was expressly to repeal those Acts which might be considered to be now no longer in force, so that there might be an expurgated edition of the statute-book. We had fallen into a most vicious system in legislation of introducing into Acts of Parliament a provision repealing so much of any former Act as might be inconsistent with the present Act, and there was no editor who would like to take on himself the responsibility of publishing an edition of the statutes which would con- tain only just those portions which were actually in force. This Bill had been very carefully drawn by Messrs. Reilly and Wood It had been circulated during the recess to all the public offices, and they were asked whether any of the Acts proposed to be repealed were still in force or were of any utility, and the answers received from them in reply showed that it would require very slight amendment. The result of the repeals proposed by the Bill, if they were agreed to, would be that the statute-book would be reduced to one-fourth of its present bulk. The noble and learned Lord then presented a Bill for repealing divers Acts and parts of Acts, which have ceased to be in force.

Bill read la.