December 31, 2011

Those Damned Lawmakers

I had an hour to spare so I thought I'd go and see if I could find out how many statutes and statutory instruments we had on the Rolls.

I wish I hadn't bothered.

What is wrong with these people?

Have a look at this. This list is from 1987 to the end of 2011. Something changed in 1986/7 but I haven't pinned it down yet.

Take a close look at the first full year the coagulation were in power. They managed to outdo Labour when they were in full flood! So much for less government, eh?

Year & Number of statutes/SI's enacted

2011-4116-most "laws" enacted, ever! Thanks Dave. Thanks Nick.






In 1986 just 355 pieces of legislation were enacted. Prior to that the average was less than 100 per year.

From 1900 to 1985 6,141 pieces of legislation were enacted. Compare that to the four year period above (1987-1990) when they vomited out 6,433 new rules & regulations.

The very best years of all were 1265 and 1266. (The first parliament was created in 1265). Full of newbies, they did not draft any legislation at all for the first two years, and they only managed to pump two out in 1267.

Notably, between 1716 and 1765 they produced a grand total of 17 new "laws" in that 49 year period.

If you feel you really must depress yourself further, the source is here. To begin with I was scrolling through each page of 20 Acts and SI's but there were just too many, so I used the "Legislation by year" information on the bottom left of that page.

By my tally we have in the region of 68,000 statutes and statutory instruments on the Rolls.

That is a humongous amount. In one way, shape or form, each & every one of them will or can have an effect on every one of us.

Appoint me King Shit of Turd Mountain and I will wipe them all out. All 68,000 of them. Treaties and Declarations will remain. (And no, I do not mean the EU Treaties. I mean the proper ones that form our Constitution).

With me you will get just one law: do no harm.

Break this one law and elected judges have a free rein on sentencing and punishment.

There is one small change: we will no longer need MPs or solicitors.



WitteringsfromWitney said...

Interesting - CR and if we separate Statutes and Statutory Instruments and concentrate on the latter - which are not debated, but can only be accepted or rejected by MPs, the figures are even more 'enlightening'.......

Of course SIs are virtually rule by Ministerial fiat.

Anonymous said...

My guess would be most of em are EU related.

Live an 'Achievable Life' said...

IF and that is a BIG 'IF' statutes and acts are 'law' - which they aren't (and this proves it)
ALL Judges, solicitors, attorneys, council, barristers, QC's et al have a HELL of a job proving that ignorance of the LAW is NO defence.
68,000 supposed ^LAWS^.
and some of those ACTS and statutes run into pages and pages.

Sort of blows the whole lot out of the water don't you think.

Namaste, rev;

Anonymous said...

Depressing stuff. We used to live in a country where everything was permitted except that which was prohibited by law. I suspect that the great raft of Statutes / SIs you have been counting have one purpose: to make everything prohibited except that which is permitted by law.


Captain Ranty said...


SI's are exactly as you describe. An MP with less than five minutes experience as an MP can scribble an SI. He or she has just made law.


Captain Ranty said...



I think the ratio is 80:20. Our feckless are responsible for creating just 20% of the legislation.

I demand that we reduce their salaries by......80%.


Captain Ranty said...


We both know that statutes are NOT law.

The Borg (in govt and out of it) would have us believe that this crap is enforcable.

It IS, but only if you don't take the time to learn why it isn't.


Captain Ranty said...


Good point.

And the net result is that it brings nicely into line with Europe where everything is prohibited except that which is permitted.

Not too subtle, our MPs, are they?


Anonymous said...

"Break this one law and elected judges have a free rein on sentencing and punishment."

And a Jury, right?

Power seems to have a really bad effect on some people.

Anonymous said...

There are a lot that haven't got onto that Legislation site yet, so it's not quite as halcyon a picture as one may at first believe Captain. Though your point is completely valid, and the last 20-odd years in particular have seen stupid numbers of these Acts and SIs being passed willy-nilly. We know why, of course. ;-)

The subject of the unwieldy statute book and its compendium of pointless legislation featured numerous times in Hansard in the 19th century. There were several commissions that spent considerable sums of money looking into the issue and then getting nowhere - something that obviously bears no resemblance to today's orderly procedures whatsoever. ;-)

The site might show just 17 in a 49-year period but Hansard begs to differ. When introducing the second reading of the Statute Law Revision Bill in 1861 the Lord Chancellor said that "since Magna Charta there had been upwards of 14,000 public Acts passed" which apparently occupied 42 quarto volumes, and when speaking of the third Statute Law Commission in 1855 one MP mentions how many public Acts were passed during the reigns of the monarchs from William & Anne onwards - and there were 1,924 passed during the reigns of Georges I and II which roughly coincides with the time period you mention.

Quite how much revisioning the subsequent Statute Law Revision/Repeal Acts have done is anyone's guess because only a handful of more recent ones are available!

That same MP also said of the statutes that " confused were they, and frequently so ill-expressed, that they were almost as unintelligible as in the olden time, when they were written in bad Latin, or afterwards in worse French. It was impossible, with the vast amount of obsolete Acts which still encumbered our Statute Book, for even a man bred to the law to know what the law really was, they were such an undigested mass of enactments..."

As Witterings from Witney says above the SIs are the key ones, and there was a recent story in the Grauniad where an SI was introduced that created a new offence, one that had been specifically rejected by the House of Lords during the debates for the primary legislation that preceded it. DEFRA eventually "concedes" that a mistake was made... How many other SIs are doing similar things?

Oh, and that SI was Europe-derived...



Captain Ranty said...

Anon 14:52,

"And a Jury, right?"

Goes without saying. Which is why I never said it. :)


Captain Ranty said...


Thanks for the links.

(I now have access to Halsbury's but have not yet dipped in for a read).

You are right: I did not list those which were enacted and later repealed, and like you, I know there were many thousands that ended up in the bin. I imagine that as many were binned for being unreadable as those that had become outdated.

Of all I have seen so far, it is the SI's that worry me the greatest.


Bucko said...

No solicitors? Even under the 'do no harm' law, the accused needs an adequate defence.

And the wv is ovaries. Is that the female term for bollocks?

Captain Ranty said...


No. They are all fired.

McKenzie Friends will take their places.


Anonymous said...

I've come to the conclusion that we've actually got it very easy indeed, Captain.

After all, we could be in the US, where, um, 40,000 new "laws" were passed last year alone!

Obviously they are all needed. Every single one of them. Just like our ones...


Glad to hear you have some light reading for the New Year...!!



John Pickworth said...


That number has a ring about it... like Room 101, Fahrenheit 451 or 1984. Or at least it should.

Its shocking. What the hell are they trying to do? This isn't what either of the coalition partners promised the nation.

I suggest the next time any of us have cause to communicate with our MP we ask them if they know what 4062 is?

Jan M said...

A bit out of context.

Happy New Year Captain, and next year I'm going to do the best I can to stand up to the money, public grabing system.

After all we pay there wages....

Dan said...

Actually, the problem is even worse than you suspect. The laws as written are not readily machine parse-able, so the net result is that going to law is now even more of a gamble than ever before. A case has already occurred where a man guilty under two laws was acquitted because the old one had had a time limit on it which had expired at the time of the "offence", and the new one had not then come into force. He was innocent by virtue of ministerial incompetence.

The first lawyers to sort out a way of machine parsing laws are going to clean up, financially speaking, as they will know more than their less favoured colleagues.

However all it actually ought to take to sort this out is recognition by a judge that ignorance of obscure statutes really IS a defence (though common law, being simpler by far, would not be thus challenged) and thereafter a major clean-up is effectively forced on the system.

We who fettle computers call this debugging. The OpenBSD project makes a virtue out of code simplification, on the grounds that less code means less space for bugs to hide in. Lawyers and law-makers would do well to copy this ethos from their intellectual superiors.

Captain Ranty said...


How the hell do they expect anyone to keep up?

I think it was Cicero who said "More laws equals less freedom" or something like that.

The law is supposed to be there to help, not hinder.

Will they ever get that memo?


Captain Ranty said...


Now THAT would be a worthwhile exercise.

Do you think any of them actually know how many "laws" they pump out every year?

4062. It really is a staggering output.


Captain Ranty said...


Many thanks for your good wishes.

I send them back magnified by 1,000!

Have a fantastic year. Make it what you want it to be.


Captain Ranty said...


I hear that.

When I was trying to do a simple count I was frustrated at every turn. In the end I had to do it manually but it should have been no more than three minutes work to get a total since 1265.

The parsing thing is very interesting. I'd be extremely keen to cross-reference several (or all) statutes to look for conflicts. I am willing to bet that there are thousands of them. Each one cancelling out another.

If I need to, I will use the Claim of Right 1688/9 in court wrt the speeding thing. The CoR cannot be amended or repealed because it is a declaration, and it was in place hundreds of years before the Road Traffic Act. (I was charged under the RTA by my visitors, Bad Cop & Worse Cop). From my limited learning, the older law is supreme.

I may be finding out if that is true very soon.


Anonymous said...

Captain - this is from 'English Legal System'' Elliot and Quinn 11th Ed page 64


The courts assume that certain points are implied in all legislation. These presumptions include the following:

statutes do not change the common law'

It seems that 'the courts' do not know their arse from their elbow and need to be told what their bloody job is - to uphold the LAW!


Captain Ranty said...


I agree.

And that ties in with my post about all courts being illegal. They have created so much shit that even they have no clue. How is an untrained man/woman supposed to know what's going on?

The simplest thing to do is kill the "court" before it even starts. They have no jurisdiction and they have no authority. They need both to hear the case.


Anonymous said...

Also, something that only occurred to me the other day - the 'Crown PROSECUTION Service'. The name says it all - it's there to prosecute so it cannot be impartial.