HL Deb 28 May 1867 vol 187 cc1198-9

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


, in moving that the Bill be now read the second time, explained that its object was to continue the great work of revising the statute law. The first portion of the work had been superintended by his noble and learned Friend Lord Westbury, when Attorney General, and repealed all Acts which had ceased to be in force otherwise than by express repeal between 10 Geo. III. down to 21 & 22 of the Queen. That Act was passed in 1861, when Lord Campbell was Lord Chancellor. In 1863 a further revision was completed under the superintendence of Lord Westbury as Lord Chancellor. It was a more sweeping reform than the other, and extended from the time of Magna Charta down to the end of the Reign of James II. The Bill he (the Lord Chancellor) had introduced filled up the gap between the end of the Reign of James II. and 10 Geo. III., where the first revision commenced. Their Lordships would thus have, after this Bill, a complete weeding of the statutes from Magna Charta down to the 21 & 22 of the Queen. By the first of these revisions 800 statutes were repealed, by the second 1,900, and in the present Bill about the same number were struck out—in all, by these revisions 3,000 Acts were disposed of; and if on the passing of this Act a new edition of the Statutes were issued they would form but six or seven volumes, in place of the eighty - five or eighty-six which now form what was very properly described as "the Statutes at Large." It had been thought desirable that we should have a complete Classified Index to the Statutes. Her Majesty's Government had thought it would be most important to have this Index perfectly complete by arranging the different Statutes under different heads, not merely an index of Titles, but also a summary of Contents, and that this should be published at the end of every Session. It would, no doubt, be a work of considerable difficulty and time to form an Index such as he had indicated, but when once formed it would be easy to keep it up. He thought it would be desirable to refer the consideration of the best mode of accomplishing this work to persons of experience and judgment, and he had therefore selected Sir John Shaw Lefevre, Sir Erskine Hay, Mr. Thring, and Mr. Reilly to recommend the best course to be adopted. The Report which those gentlemen had made he had not been able to read very carefully; but, as far as he understood it, they believed it possible to have this Index completed by the end of the Session of 1868. He thought also that for the continuation of this Index from year to year, no one more competent or more fully qualified could be selected than Mr. Wood, the gentleman who had displayed so much judgment in the revision of the Statutes.

Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a."—(The Lord Chancellor.)


expressed his satisfaction at seeing the Bill before their Lordships, and thought that no better selection could be made than the one proposed by the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, inasmuch as the skill displayed by Sir. Wood in the work which he had already done was deserving of all praise.

Motion agreed to: Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Friday next.

House adjourned at Seven o'clock, to Friday next, half past Ten o'clock