ORAL EVIDENCE |
Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: John Saunders,
Jonathan Teasdale, Law Commission; Susan Sutherland,
Scottish Law Commission; and David Hole, HM Revenue &
Customs gave evidence.
The Chairman: Good morning,
ladies and gentlemen. I am afraid that we have to yell at you
from a distance. Mr Saunders, will you take the lead?
Indeed, my Lord Chairman.
The Chairman: Perhaps
you would introduce your colleagues and then give an outline of
Certainly. On my immediate left is Jonathan Teasdale of the Law
Commission for England and Wales. On my far left is Mr David Hole
from HM Revenue and Customs and on my right is Mrs Susan Sutherland
from the Scottish Law Commission. I should say that Mr David Hole
has been helping us with some of the tax proposals in the Bill.
Perhaps I could take just a few moments to put the
Bill into context as it is quite an unusual Bill and not one that
comes around very often. It has been prepared, jointly, by the
Law Commission in London and the Scottish Law Commission in Edinburgh,
in pursuance of their statutory duty under the Law Commissions
Act 1965 to keep the statute book under review and, more particularly,
for the purpose of repealing obsolete and unnecessary enactments.
The published report of the two Commissions gives more information
about the repeals now being recommended.
It has to be said that the statute book is vast.
There is no one source, whether on a database or in hard copy
format, that holds the entire body of primary legislation. No
one knows exactly how many Acts of Parliament are sitting on the
statute book. If you include every single Act, including those
having local application only, there are probably 35,000 or more.
A great many of these Acts have become obsolete.
Repeals Bills such as these, and there have been
18 since the Law Commissions were established in 1965this
is the 19thare part of a continuing process to keep the
statute book as up to date and as free of dead wood as possible.
The overall aim is to leave in place only laws that still have
practical utility. This latest repeals Bill, which is the largest
ever produced by the Law Commissions, proposes the total repeal
of more than 800 Acts. This amounts to something like 2% of the
total number of Acts still sitting on the statute book. It is
our hope to tackle the remaining 98% at a future date.
The Commissions operate independently of government,
so the repeals indentified in the Bill represent the Commissions'
own recommendations. Although government departments do on occasion
suggest individual repeals, the Commissions examine these on their
merits as they would any other repeal proposal. Having carried
out research on each repeal candidate, the Commissions consult
anyone with a likely interest in it, whether this is a government
department, a local authority, a representative body or an individual.
Only if there is general support for a repeal proposal does that
proposal end up in the Bill. The Committee should know that there
are no outstanding objections to any of the repeal proposals set
out in this Bill.
Because the Bill is about repealing dead law, there
is nothing in it which will affect the substantive law. Unlike
almost any other Bill going through Parliament, this Bill contains
no policy issues for debate. It is essentially a tidying-up exercise.
Turning to the Bill, it is very short. Clause 1 introduces
the two schedules. The main substance of the Bill is contained
in Schedule 1, which lists the enactments recommended for repeal.
Schedule 1 is divided into 11 parts, each of which reflects an
individual part of the statute book. They cover such topics as
civil and criminal justice, railways and taxation. Schedule 2,
which is much smaller, contains provisions that are directly consequential
on the repeals in Schedule 1.
Clause 2 makes it clear that the Bill, if enacted,
can have effect only in the United Kingdom; that is, England and
Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It will have no effect on
the law of any other country, irrespective of whether an Act being
repealed is also in force in that other country. Nor will it affect
the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or any British Overseas Territory
unless an Order in Council is sought to achieve that result. Clause
3 provides the short title and commencement. The repeals would
all take effect when the Bill, if enacted, receives Royal Assent.
Finally, so far as Scotland is concerned, the Committee
will wish to know that a legislative consent Motion relating to
this Bill has recently been lodged with the Scottish Parliament.
This Motion, which is due to be considered next Tuesday, 27 November,
seeks the agreement of the Scottish Parliament to the relevant
provisions of the Bill, in so far as they fall within the legislative
competence of the Scottish Parliament, being considered by the
UK Parliament. I should say that no such consent Motions are required
by the Assemblies for Northern Ireland or Wales.
If the Committee has questions about our process
and how we go about our work, we shall do our best to answer them.
The Chairman: Thank you,
Mr Saunders. Does any member have a question on the general principles
or the explanatory notes? Otherwise we will pass to the consideration.
Jenny Chapman: I was fascinated
by what you said. How do you decide where to look? Are suggestions
nominated by departments, or is it more random? It is obviously
not alphabetical, but how do you do it?
Some of them come from suggestions made by civil servants in various
departments. Some come from the drafters of legislation. Some
come from the public. They come from organisations which perhaps
have an Act concerning them on the statute book. Mostly they come
from within the Law Commissions themselves. Often we come across
them when conducting research on other projects. We stumble over
ancient provisions which look odd and then more research shows
that they are indeed odd, so they become candidates for a later
Bill. But it is not done in chronological order or, as you say,
alphabetical order. It is done according to the maximum benefit
for the statute book that can be achieved at the minimum cost
on our part to repeal as many Acts in that area as we can.
Sir Robert Smith: May
I just clarify what happens next Tuesday if the Scottish Parliament
chooses not to consent?
If it chose not to consent, which I believe is most unlikely as
the Justice Committee of the Scottish Parliament has already approved
the repeals as they relate to Scotland, the Bill would have to
be amended later in the House of Lords to have stripped out of
it all the provisions relating to Scotland that fall within the
competence of the Scottish Parliament. I hope that that will not
happenit has not happened so far.
The Chairman: Are there
any other questions? If you are ready, perhaps we can proceed
to considering the Bill in segments. I propose to take them in
fairly large bites. I will ask for comments or questions on each
portion, ask the Bill team for answers, proceed through those
and then put the questions when they are ready. It is our custom
to postpone the title.
Clause 1 : Repeals and revocations
The Chairman: Perhaps
I could take the three clauses of the Bill together. Does any
Member have any question or matter to raise about them?
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed.
Schedule 1 : Repeals and revocations
The Chairman: I will take
Part 1 of Schedule 1 in portions. We will take groups 1 to 12
together. They are various benevolent institutionsa mixed
bag of charitable foundations. Does any Member wish to raise any
question about those groups? Very good, thank you. Now we will
look at groups 13 and 14 separately. They are a number of Irish
benevolent institutions. General Repeals are covered on pages
6 and 7 of Schedule 1. Are there any questions or comments? Very
good, thank you.
Now we will look at Part 2 on civil and criminal
justice. This is where the earliest legislation comes in: the
Statutes of the Exchequer, thought to be from around 1322. There
are also miscellaneous things from pages 7 and 8 of the Bill.
Are there any questions or comments? Thank you.
Part 3 deals with Indian railways. As you will see,
it includes a mixture of private and public ActsI think
nearly all are private. There are various railways throughout
the whole of India. The Acts are all recommended for repeal as
being obsolete. Would any Member like to raise anything about
any of them?
Part 4 deals with Dublin and such interesting things
as the Dublin Steam Packet Company, Dublin hospitals, police and
justice, the General Post Office of famous memory, carriages and
the Dublin Corporation. Does anything arise that Members would
like to raise?
Charlie Elphicke: It is
more a general point, Lord Chairman, on the repeal of the charitable-type
Acts. If we take one of the hospitals as an example, the thrust
of what is said in the report is that these are not necessary
because we have the Charity Commission and it will all be fine.
I sit on the Public Administration Select Committee. We have been
looking at the Charity Commission and there has been considerable
disquiet at its conduct, and in particular at its provision of
public benefit in the light of the Charities Act 2006. Do you
envisage any public benefit issue with any of these charities
by statute that would mean that if you repeal their statute, they
will potentially be subject to a review on public benefit grounds
and to finding themselves, like some charities, in a certain amount
of difficulty and complicated discussions with the Charity Commission
in relation to the continuation of their charitable status?
The Charity Commission has played quite a part in our repeals
in the Bill, not because it has had direct input but because it
has produced schemes that have made old statutes redundant. This
is because over the yearsmany of the Acts were passed in
the 1700s and 1800stheir objectives have become imprecise
and the corporate governance of the original Act has become unsuited
to the modern age. The role of the Charity Commission, as far
as we are concerned, has been to replace the old Acts with a new,
modern structure. However, nothing that we are doing today in
terms of repealing the obsolete Acts will impinge or have any
effect on the charities. For the most part, the Acts have not
been in force for 50 or 100 years or more. What is being done
today will not directly affect any of the charities. They have
all been glad to get rid of the Acts. I do not know whether that
answers your question.
Charlie Elphicke: That
is hugely helpful, but let us say that, in five years' time, we
have a situation where the Charity Commission says to one of these
charities, "We are not sure whether you are charitable in
your activities and behaviour, and whether they are for the public
benefit". It would be helpful to have comfort on the record
so that the charities could say, "It was not the intention
of Parliament to affect our underlying charitable status; this
was simply intended as tidying up".
Certainly, all these Acts are moribund if not totally dead. None
of the appeals today will affect the purpose or status of the
Charlie Elphicke: That
is much appreciated. Hopefully it will not be necessary, but for
the purposes of Pepper v Hart, it might be helpful to have this
on the record for future reference. One never knows what the future
The Chairman: That is
a name to conjure with. I think that you will find that most of
the medical charities have been subsumed into the National Health
Service, and the educational ones into education authorities.
Thank you for the point. Are you happy with the answer?
Charlie Elphicke: I am
very happy, Lord Chairman.
Damian Collins: Perhaps
I may ask a question as well. I was looking at the provisions
with regard to the Philanthropic Society Acts. The Explanatory
Notes state that the only remaining purpose of these enactments
is the status of a body corporate that was conferred on the society
by provision of the 1806 Act, and that the effect of the provision
may be conveniently preserved by the savings entry in Schedule
2 to the Bill. This states that the repeal by this Act of the
Philanthropic Society's Act 1806 does not affect the status of
the Royal Philanthropic Society as a body corporate. Following
my colleague's question, I will say that that may be so as things
stand now, but in some ways, would these organisations be better
off if we preserved the original legislation that enacted them
and guaranteed their status?
They have in effect already lost the legislation by having new
schemes drawn up by the Charity Commission that replaced their
ancient structure. I suppose it might be possibleit is
just about conceivablethat there might be something in
one of the old Acts that has a particular ring to it. But in truth,
the answer to your question is no. In the case of the Philanthropic
Society, its constitution has been replaced by a Charity Commission
scheme of 2008. The only reason for commenting on it in this report,
apart from repealing it, is that it conferred charter status.
We would not wish the charity to lose that when we repeal the
Act, so it is specifically savedbut it would be fanciful
to believe that there is anything left in the old Act that the
charity would wish to return to. In truth, the old Acts reflect
a corporate structure and governance that became out of date often
very soon after they were passed.
Damian Collins: Did the
society request the provision in Schedule 2 to the Bill?
No, we offered it to them.
The Chairman: Thank you.
You will see on page 76 of the Explanatory Notes what Mr Saunders
has been saying. The charities' corporate status will be saved
by the saving provisions in Schedule 2, and the other matters
with which the Act deals are obsolete. I hope that that answers
Damian Collins: It does,
The Chairman: That is
Part 4. Part 5, local courts and administration of justice, relates
mostly to minor local courts around the country. There was a plethora
of them in days gone by but they are now part of the administration
of justice from top to bottom, if I may put it that way. Does
anyone have any questions about that? Very good. Thank you.
In Part 6, London, about which many of you will probably
know a great deal more than I do, perhaps I may take Groups 1
to 3. Group 1 is churches, Group 2 is improvementswhich
are street works, basicallyand Group 3 is London Gaslight
Acts. Does anyone have anything to raise about those? Thank you.
Still in Part 6, Group 4 deals with markets and Group
5 with general repeals, which is a miscellaneous group of things
relating to London as it was a long time ago. Does any Member
have any thoughts on those items? Very good. Thank you.
Part 7 is lotteriesa small number of Acts
but historically quite interesting. The purpose of all of them
is spent. Lotteries were held or not held long ago. Does anyone
have anything to raise on those? Thank you.
Part 8 is poor relief. There are old charities all
over the place from before the days of state welfare which are
now spent. There are provisional orders of confirmation that relate
to similar things that are set out on pages 23 to 26 of the Bill.
Does anything arise out of those?
Lord Eames: Under poor
relief there is quite a selection here, as we can see, of redundant
institutions and so on. Did any of those emerge during your investigations
as still having certain monetary value that would not necessarily
be covered by the current legislation on charities? If so, were
there any objections to what this Act seeks to do?
I think I can answer that question quite shortly. The answer is
no in both cases. Among all these institutions, the latest have
been dead since 1930. There were no objections to any part of
Lord Eames: I was just
wondering whether some were not covered by either approach.
There are none in our repeals at the moment. There may well be
other institutions that we have not looked at which might have
some lingering purpose, but we have not gone through them all.
We are satisfied that, on the basis of the research that we have
done, none of the bodies here has any residual interest, property
or assets. All that can be said is that a few of the workhouses
still stand. These days they are used mostly as residential accommodation.
In the middle of the second half of the 20th century, quite a
few were used as military hospitals or NHS hospitals, but many
of those have been merged into hospital groups and the buildings
have either fallen down or they have been converted into private
The Chairman: Are there
any other issues on this group? Very good. Thank you.
Perhaps we may pass on to part 9 on page 26. The
first group is abortive railway projects. There appear to be quite
a large number of projects that never came to anything. Indeed,
they go on for quite a few pages in the schedule to the Bill.
There are Irish, English and, as I recollect, some Scottish ones
as well. Before I pass on from Group 1 to Group 2, are there any
questions about these repeal provisions?
Damian Collins: May I
ask about the Elham Valley Railway Act 1866 because I live in
Elham and the railway runs through my constituency? There was
an Elham Valley railway which closed down in the early part of
the 20th century. Do these old railway Acts primarily exist around
the companies that were bringing the projects forward at the time?
Is there any merit in the Acts being preserved should anyone wish
to reopen or even take up any of these railways in the future?
The answer to that must be no, if only because the powers given
in the Act were mostly for compulsory purchase. They expired a
few years after they were given, so these Acts, charming as they
arethere are so many of them because we have never done
a project on abortive railway projects beforemeans that
there is nothing that anyone could do with one of these Acts now
except tiptoe past it and ask Parliament for fresh powers. None
of the powers still exist. Although often railways with similar
names were set up at a later date, they do not rely in any way
on the Acts now being proposed for repeal.
Damian Collins: Thank
The Chairman: Group 2
relates to rates and charges that were set by private Act, which
must have been a very nice source of work for the parliamentary
Bar in days gone by. There is a whole collection of them on pages
44 to 48. Does anything arise out of those?
Group 3 is a number of miscellaneous provisions,
mostly about the Midland Great Western Railway of Ireland and
a few bits and pieces on page 51. Does anything arise? Thank you.
Part 10 takes quite a different approach. It covers
taxation and pensions and is part of the tidying-up process that
HMRC has engaged in. If I am correct, it is an ongoing process.
This is a tranche of matters which need to be cleared up. Some
of them may have escaped before, which is not surprising when
you look at all the Tolley books. It is now proposed, for reasons
relating to each that have been set out in detail in the Law Commission
report, that they be repealed. The first group is general taxation
and the second group is local taxation. These are pretty historicthe
Two Pennies Acts and so on. The third group is made up of bits
and pieces relating to public records et cetera. Has anyone managed
to find anything to criticise about these?
Baroness Mallalieu: May
I ask a question, probably of Mr Hole. Today, when new legislation
is brought in, people are strict about deleting the old pieces
in the Act so that we have everything in one place. Presumably
the ones that have fallen into disuse or have been replaced should
have been taken out by a subsequent Finance Act.
David Hole: The
short answer to that question is yes. The people who work on Finance
Bill measures each year search carefully for legislation that
has been superseded. This is sometimes obvious and sometimes less
so. It is now much easier to find bits of legislation that have
been superseded and should be cleared away because it is possible
to search through the legislation electronically. That is the
main way nowadays in which tax legislation that is no longer needed
is removed from the statute bookin the normal way through
a Finance Bill.
Lord Chairman, may I just add a footnote to that? The bulk of
what is in this part flows from the Tax Law Rewrite project, which
spanned the years 1996 to 2010a huge, 14-year project.
That resulted in some seven enormous consolidation Acts, which
as time has already gone by, are already starting to get slightly
out of date. It was a consolidation project whereby a raft of
Acts was taken and repeals were inherent in the reconsolidation.
One of the difficulties, even for that team, is that tax law has
layer upon layer. As each Finance Bill comes along, there are
going to be amendments to previous substantive legislation, such
as the Income and Corporation Taxes Act. Where you actually have
a substantive law with an amendment, as it were, above it, and
a further amendment, and then you come to repeal the substantive
provision, as the Tax Law Rewrite project did, it is not always
easy to capture all those layers upon layers of amendments. As
you rightly said at the outset, Lord Chairman, this is a rather
different part of the Bill, because it is what we call "precision
surgery". You are not taking out whole Acts, you are taking
out teeny pieces. The idea is to capture, so far as is practicable,
those areas of amendment that were not captured previously. In
a sense, that ought now to wrap up the Tax Law Rewrite project.
The Chairman: It rather
improves the Bill and it is possible to get the up-to-date text
of an Act as it is electronically. Is that not so?
Sir Robert Smith: I think
that the question has been answered. Should all this go through,
how easy is it for someone to know that all the legislation that
we have listed so far has been repealed?
You will find the answers in different places. It will be on the
electronic database, legislation.gov.uk, although it is difficult
for that database to keep up with Finance Acts, but that is certainly
the intention of those who run the database. Of course, in the
area of taxation law, there are a number of specialist publishers,
and they will capture this data and adjust the text accordingly.
So there are different ways in which it can be captured.
Sir Robert Smith: On the
earlier stuff that we have looked at, the non-tax legislation,
what happens when someone suddenly comes across one of these old
So far as public general Acts are concerned, exactly the same
applies. The legislation database contains live legislation and,
in due course, will be updated. Lawyers will use Halsbury's statutes
and other products of that nature. Encyclopaedias will be updated
in the same way. The position is more difficult as far as local
legislation is concerned because there is no database for it,
as such, which is easily searchable. Running alongside all this
are a series of books called the Chronological Tables of the Statutes,
of which you may not be aware. For public general Acts, they begin
in 1235, when the statute book begins, although 1267 is the date
for the oldest live statute, the Statute of Marlborough. It goes
right up to last year, 2011. There is also a series of four chronological
tables relating to local legislation and private legislation.
Local legislation ran from 1797 up to date, and private legislation
from the 16th century up to date. Those chronological tables,
shortly after Royal Assent is given for this kind of Bill, are
then updated by the editors of the tables. I should say that at
the moment the public general chronological tables are, sadly,
not on an electronic database. One hopes that they will get there
in due course, but then you have the legislation database which
will deal with that. The local and private Acts' tables actually
are available on a database on the internet; and, again, that
will be accessible to the public.
The Chairman: Part 11
relates to turnpikesa fine piece of social history. Group
1 is Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, and runs from page 56 through
to page 62. Does anything arise on that? Group 2 covers Surrey,
from page 62 to page 64.
Damian Collins: Obviously
there are turnpike roads all over the country and I should imagine
that there were Acts of Parliament that set them up. Have Acts
previously been repealed, or are there some that you have left?
In our previous Bill, four years ago, we put forward a large number
of repeals for Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk. Here we have Surrey,
Oxfordshire and so forth. It is therefore an incremental set of
repeals. I think more than 1,000 or so turnpike Acts still sit
on the statute book, and nearly all have expired, anyway, but
each one has to be looked at. Some may contain rights that have
to be preserved. This is a second bite at that cherry.
Damian Collins: That sounds
like a process that you will be working on for some time.
If I live long enough, yes.
The Chairman: Group 3
deals with London to Holyhead, on pages 64 to 66. Does anything
arise on that?
Jenny Chapman: I was in
north Wales on holiday a few years ago. There was a little road
there, by the side of which a little child and his dad were collecting
5 pence from each car because, apparently, they had some historical
right related to their house to be able to do that. It was quite
sweet and presumably they are allowed to do so because of one
of these sorts of laws. It occurs to me that London to Holyhead
could well include that little road. Do we check?
We do check and, as you say, there are some Acts that give the
owners of a bridge the right to charge a toll. In some cases,
I think they have the right to have the toll free of tax. We have
been very careful not to take away any of those rights. Increasingly,
it seems that the Government are thinking about tolls on roads
and the like, but these are early examples of raising money for
road maintenance which would never have been provided by central
government back in the 18th and 19th centuries. None of the repeals
here concerns rights that currently exist to charge tolls.
The Chairman: That completes
the groups in Schedule 1. Before I put the question, are there
any other questions from any part of it that may have been overlooked,
or are you all content that I put the question?
Lord Swinfen: A number
of these Acts apply to the Republic of Ireland and to the Indian
subcontinent. Do their Governments get told what we have been
The answer is yes. In both those instances, the legislation that
you are being asked to look at now affects only the United Kingdom.
Therefore, Parliament has no power to interfere in any way with
the statute books of India or Ireland. This is the second tranche
of our work on India. The third and final tranche will be in a
consultation paper coming out, hopefully, next week. That will
complete the India part of the statute book. We have consulted
with the High Commissions of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri
Lanka and Burma and their Governments. We have also written to
Indian Railways and, in the context of the current consultation
paper, are writing to the Indian Ministry of Law and Justice.
I have to say that, as far as Indian railways is concerned, we
had no response except for a very courteous invitation to the
High Commission of Bangladesh, where Mr Saunders and I went to
talk to the deputy High Commissioner about various things, including
Indian railways. We had no indication of objection or concern.
Likewise, from 1922 onwards, and certainly from 1949
when it became a republic, Ireland has been entirely a sovereign
state with its own statute book. Some of our statutes were inherited
and sit on their statute book, although they have had an enormous
exercise in the past decade to wipe obsolete material off, particularly
that which was inherited from over the water. There we have been
in contact with various bodiesthe relevant ministries,
hospitals, police, the Government generally, the Law Commission
of Ireland and the Attorney General's Office in Ireland, which
has been leading on this vast repeals and revision exercise. I
say to the Joint Committee again that no concerns have been voiced,
although we have had interesting correspondence to and fro on
some issues. The bottom line is that there are no objections to
these repeals; the reason being that, ultimately, what you are
being asked to do now will not actually affect their statute books.
Charlie Elphicke: May
I just ask, on Schedule 1, what the Two Pennies Scots Acts are?
Can you explain why they are not one penny or three pennies? What
is this arcane Scottish thing all about?
The Two Pennies Scots Acts were enacted to collect money from
the sale and brewing of beer and ale in the various Burghs named
in the titles to the Acts. The money collected locally was then
put to good causes within the area concerned. I do not know why
it was two pennies rather than one penny.
That was just the amount of the tax.
Yes. It was a very small amount of money.
Charlie Elphicke: When
did it cease?
Charlie Elphicke: So it
was just block repealed in 1829 and no one got around to dealing
with the various funny little Acts?
I must correct myself; 1850 was the very last date by which any
of these Acts might still have had any force. The reason why they
were missed, I think, is because in around 1797 Parliament set
up a new system for dealing with local Acts, which is what these
are, separately from public general Acts. Because they are local
Acts, and the record keeping for local Acts has never been as
good as for public general Acts, they have simply been under the
radar and have not been spotted. It is only through the work of
the Law Commissions over the past 20 or 30 years that we now have
these chronological tables which have helped us spot them. That
is why they have now come within our sights.
Charlie Elphicke: My honourable
friend, the Member for Folkestone and Hythe here, has previous
averred to the Elham Valley Railway Act, which is obviously defunct.
I notice that the Deal and Dover Railway Act 1865 is also being
repealed. That railway still continues and is much used in my
Damian Collins: There
is a high-speed rail stop.
Charlie Elphicke: Indeed;
it now benefits even from high-speed rail, which is an excellent
achievement and speeds my and my honourable friend's constituents
to London and back again. What was the effect of this Act? Will
the repeal in any way cause any difficulties for any railway line
which is still going?
The answer is no. Sadly, a Board of Trade warrant was obtained
in 1871, ordering that the railway enterprise should be abandoned,
so the powers under that Act expired. The present Network Rail
service does not rely on these old Acts; just as well, perhaps.
I think no track was ever built under most of these Acts. It is
either a case of the rails being extremely rusty now or, in most
cases, never having been put there in the first place.
Lord Eames: Could I bore
you by taking you back to some of the earlier parts of our evidence?
It is really in relation to the dealings that you have had in
legislation from Ireland, and the fact that you have legislation,
particularly under charities in this schedule, which dates right
back to the Ireland of old. Now you are dealing with the Republic
of Ireland Government in Dublin and you also have the devolved
Administration in Belfast. I realise that it is not possible to
overlap the legislation because we have two totally different
pictures. Far be it from me to suggest that there may be any loopholes
for future generations of lawyers, but I am wondering whether,
by any chance, you had difficulty in any of the overlapping legislation
from the old to the new, if you know what I am asking? Could you
expand a little on that for me?
Mr Saunders will deal with the railway issue. Inevitably, some
of the legislation that one looks at crosses the whole of the
island of Ireland, as is and as was. We were referring to India
and Ireland. We are trying to do this as part of a much broader
topic called Overseas Territories. As you can imagine, that is
enormous because we are talking about the British Empire, as was.
We thought it sensible to focus on discrete areasIndia
and Irelandwhere, if I can put it this way, the Administrations
at the time of independence were quite anxious to get away from
Britain, and therefore they were anxious to do much the same with
their own statute books. In the context of Ireland, there is a
huge amount of legislation, primarily on the local part of the
statute booklocal Acts rather than the public general onesso
we thought that the safest thing to do was to focus geographically.
Therefore, we focused on Dublin in the knowledge that that legislation
will not in any way impact on Northern Ireland. We will take that
further with projects in the future, I suspect. Some of the references
hererailways, for examplecross into Northern Ireland.
We have been extremely careful in that context to consult closely
with the Northern Ireland Executive, the Ministry of Justice and
so on, to ensure that we are not interfering in any way with devolved
matters as opposed to reserved matters. But you are quite right,
my Lord, that is absolutely a challenge in terms of looking at
Irish legislation because you are going to have legislation which
crosses the border. You have legislation where, in the Republic,
they have seen fit to repeal it from their statute book and, indeed,
to update their law in particular areas, which has not happened
in the United Kingdom. Therefore, you will find statutes that
no longer have validity in the Republic but still have use in
Northern Ireland. If it is a devolved matter, that now is a matter
entirely for the devolved Administration. It is only in those
small areas of reserved matters where the United Kingdom as a
whole, and therefore in a sense our Law Commission as a longstop,
would become involved. But, of course, since 2007, Northern Ireland
has had its own Law Commission. We have a good, close, strong
working relationship with that Law Commission, as with our colleagues
in Scotland, so these three Law Commissions are working together.
It may well be that in due course, one day, there will be joint
projects not only between Scotland and England and Wales but with
Northern Ireland. The Welsh dimension is also growing, as it were,
and the position on Wales will also in due course have to be looked
at because the National Assembly for Wales has now put its first
primary legislation on its statute book. That occurred only last
week, I think. So the picture will change. But, to go back to
your original question, we are very conscious of the position
in Northern Ireland and we consult and work with it closely.
Lord Eames: Thank you
very much indeed.
The Chairman: Lord Eames,
in group 13 of Part 1, none of the provisions refers to Northern
Ireland alone. They are southern provisions. Obviously, Dublin
hospitals and Dublin City do not refer to Northern Ireland, nor
do Dublin police and justice and the other groups in Part 4, so
I think we are entitled to feel confident that we are not treading
on any Ulster toes. Is there anything else in Schedule 1 before
I put the question? Very good.
Schedule 1 agreed.
Schedule 2 : Savings
The Chairman: May I turn
then to Schedule 2 on page 66 of the print? This concerns savings,
as Mr Saunders mentioned in his opening remarks. Has any Member
anything to raise about them? Good, then I will put the question.
Schedule 2 agreed.
In the Title
The Chairman: Then we
come back to the Title, which we postponedStatute Law (Repeals)
Title agreed to.
The Chairman: Now that
we have approved the content of the Bill, we report to the House
and the terms of the report that I propose are: "The Committee
has considered the Statute Law (Repeals) Bill, which was referred
to it, and also the report of the Law Commission and the Scottish
Law Commission on the Bill." It gives the reference: Cm8330.
"We have heard evidence on the Bill. The Committee is of
the opinion that the enactments proposed to be repealed are no
longer of practical utility and we approve their repeal. There
is no point to which the special attention of Parliament should
be drawn". Are you content with that wording? Yes. Sir Robert,
will you present the report to the House of Commons along with
the minutes of proceedings?
Sir Robert Smith: Yes.
The Chairman: With your
leave, my Lords, we shall make the report to the House of Lords.
Very good. Is there any other business? Before I put the adjournment,
I express on behalf of the Committee our thanks to the Bill team,
both those who are here and those who have done other work on
it, which was immense. I thank you for the meticulous way in which
you have dealt with all this and been able to respond to any questions
or comments. I congratulate you on the work that has been done
and the preparation of the report. I hope that that meets favour
with the Committee. I thank noble Lords, ladies and gentlemen
for your attendance and for your consideration of this matter.
I think we may feel that we have covered the matter pretty thoroughly.
There being no other business, I put the question for adjournment.