Earlier this year, the Law Commissions of England and Wales and of Scotland published their 18th report in a series of proposed statute law repeals (pdf) (hat tip: Slaw). The Statute Law (Repeals) Bill was introduced into the House of Lords on Wednesday 27 February 2008 by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath. On the day that NPR reports that State Representative Byron Rushing (Dem) is mounting an effort to repeal out-of-date laws in Massachusetts comes news that the UK’s Bill received its second reading today in the House of Lords. In a press release headed Sweeping out redundant and obsolete laws the UK’s Ministry of Justice said:
A major clean-up of meaningless and defunct laws from the statute book is due to be launched in the House of Lords today.
All or part of 328 Acts of Parliament masquerading as live laws are to be removed under the Statute Law (Repeals) Bill, which has its Second Reading today. These include laws on areas like workhouses, county gaols and the former East India Company.
Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Jack Straw said:
“Laws on turnpikes, workhouses, and the Peterloo massacre are rightly of interest to historians, but there is no need to retain them on the statute book. Obsolete laws can raise people’s expectations and invite costly and pointless legal activity. This is a necessary and overdue Parliamentary spring clean.”
The Law Commission of England and Wales has compiled a list of legal curiosities (pdf) on which the media will no doubt draw heavily in their coverage. Given the week that’s in it, this one particularly caught my eye:
The Easter Act 1928 provides that, in the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, Easter Day shall be a fixed day in each year, viz. the first Sunday after the second Saturday in April. The Act has been on the statute book for 62 years but has never been brought into force.