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Tidying up the statute book

4 April 2012

In a report published today together with the Law Commission for England and Wales we are sweeping away more than 800 old laws that are cluttering up the statute book. Our statute book is littered with dead law from down the centuries. Obsolete provisions from the 1600s and earlier continue to survive long after they have ceased to serve any useful purpose.

The two Commissions are committed to cleaning up and modernising legislation. The 800+ Acts we are proposing to repeal are set out in the draft Statute Law (Repeals) Bill that accompanies today’s report (Statute Law Repeals: Nineteenth Report [Scot Law Com No 227; Law Com No. 333]).

Sir James Munby, Chairman of the Law Commission for England and Wales, said today:

“Getting rid of statutory dead wood helps to simplify and modernise our law, making it more intelligible. It saves time and costs for lawyers and others who need to know what the law actually is, and makes it easier for citizens to access justice.

“This report and draft Bill are a great achievement for the Law Commissions. We are committed to ridding the statute book of meaningless provisions from days gone by and making sure our laws are relevant to the modern world.”

The Statute Law (Repeals) Bill, which is expected to be introduced into Parliament this summer, is the largest the Commissions have ever produced. It will repeal 817 whole Acts and part repeal 50 other Acts. The Bill covers a diverse range of subjects, from poor relief and lotteries to turnpikes and Indian railways. The earliest repeal is from around 1322 (Statutes of the Exchequer) and the latest is part of the Taxation (International and Other Provisions) Act 2010.

These repeal proposals were developed following a rigorous research and consultation process. Everyone interested in the proposals was given the opportunity to contribute their views.

For more details on this work go to our Statute Law Repeals page or visit the Law Commission's website at


Examples of repeals included in the Statute Law (Repeals) Bill

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