Talk:Acts of Parliament in the United Kingdom

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Capitalisation of "Act" - thoughts?[edit]

This article has recently been edited to use "act of Parliament" rather than "Act of Parliament" throughout. I would appreciate commentary from uninvolved editors as to their opinions on this change, since the discussions on the topic elsewhere seem to have stalemated. Shimgray | talk | 13:20, 7 March 2009 (UTC)

It should have a capital letter. It always has a capital letter. That is the correct usage. The point is that that is the usage used by members of the legal profession, bodies with Crown status and etc., so it is correct. I think that it is a relic of the time when all nouns were given capital letters (e.g. look at an old Act). Lawyers tend to retain archaic langauge (e.g. Law French). It is quite correct. James500 (talk) 11:13, 27 March 2009 (UTC)

In any event, it is always spelt with a capital letter in Acts of Parliament e.g. here [1]. There is no better authority than that. James500 (talk) 11:33, 27 March 2009 (UTC)

I would contend that the correct usage of a legal term of art is determined by legislatures/courts/lawyers, and not by the general public, which seems to be the argument that is being employed to support these changes (i.e. it says that modern dictionaries document the most widespread usage and do not impose rules in a footnote in Act of Congress). James500 (talk) 12:50, 27 March 2009 (UTC)

Modern dictionaries and encyclopedias are based on vast databases that reference mainly reputable sources. They sometimes also list usage considered nonstandard, slang, jargon, etc. but then they clearly label it as such. They always base their own usage and first or only entries on the reputable sources. These include much more than usage by legislatures, the authorities, and lawyers: for example academic writing, house rules of major publishers, newspapers, etc. When all major dictionaries and encyclopedias list only lowercase or list it first, it's not OK to claim they are wrong and your personal inferences based on primary sources are right.

One of WP's main policies is to base editing on secondary sources. Any inferences from primary sources, especially when they contradict almost all major encyclopedias and dictionaries is blatant WP:OR. Please see Wikipedia_talk:Naming_conventions#act (statute) --Espoo (talk) 12:48, 28 March 2009 (UTC)

The outcome of this discussion was, IIRC, that there was no consensus to make these changes.James500 (talk) 08:27, 10 July 2011 (UTC)

No legal credentials[edit]

I have been giving this matter some thought, and I have come to the conclusion that the dictionaries etc cited as sources for this have no legal credentials and are not therefore qualified to determine the correct use of a legal term of art as a legal term of art. To put it simply, they are not reliable sources.James500 (talk) 08:27, 10 July 2011 (UTC)

Titling of acts[edit]

At a glance, i saw nothing to explain the odd looking "short title' of the "Fur Farming (Prohibition) Act 2000" -- I mean the parenthesized portion. It seemed so unusual, and so much like an afterthot, for so formal a thing to need parentheses that i actually followed links back to the full act; i initially expected to discover that "(Prohibition)" was a clarifying insertion by some ill-advised WP editor, but no, the Mother of Parliaments is that ... casual. (Fergodzache, Yanks never wear intentionally identifiable wigs, but seem more formal in naming acts of Congress!) I expect this must occasionally bemuse others; should we work toward a section or small article that describes any formal rules and the general principles that govern these decisions, which we could link to in potentially bemusing cases?
--Jerzyt 02:53, 13 July 2009 (UTC)

Paranthetical wording is used in short titles for clarification, or to denote that the Act covers only a sort of subset of (e.g.) "Fur Farming". This type of wording for short titles has been entirely standard (if occasionally haphazardly implemented) since the late nineteenth century. Other examples of the many Acts named using this convention are the Poor Relief (Ireland) Act 1886, the Rawmarsh Urban District Council (Tramways) Act 1900, and the Law Reform (Frustrated Contracts) Act 1943. Andrew Gwilliam (talk) 13:00, 10 July 2011 (UTC).
Okay, but is there any general rule, guideline, or just any form of apparent consistency in this naming system? For example, compare the "British Rail (Penalty Fares) Act 1989" with the "Poor Relief (Ireland) Act 1886": why is Penalty Fares in parentheses in the first instead of British Rail, and is Ireland in parentheses in the second instead of Poor Relief? – gpvos (talk) 21:43, 7 May 2017 (UTC)
@Gpvos: There (Ireland) denotes that it applies to Ireland only, rather than indicating a subset of the topic. There can be two parentheticals in a row—for example, the Fur Farming (Prohibition) (Scotland) Act 2002—but in that case the two parentheticals are used for different purposes. There is consistency, just a lack of different ways to clearly separate information in the short titles. LiamMcS (talk) 13:34, 8 May 2017 (UTC)

Northern Ireland[edit]

Since the article is titled "Acts of Parliament in the United Kingdom", and the Scottish Parliament is covered, we need details to also be given for the Parliament of Northern Ireland. Andrew Gwilliam (talk) 12:51, 10 July 2011 (UTC).

suggest rewording (or something) "table" as a trans. verb[edit]

There's a couple usages of "tabled" here, would it be possible to reword or disambiguate them? From context I'd presume the British usage of the verb ("to place on the agenda") is intended, but in America, the verb has nearly the opposite meaning ("to remove (as a parliamentary motion) from consideration indefinitely"), and I can imagine that this might lead to a certain amount of unnecessary confusion. --j⚛e deckertalk 17:26, 21 May 2013 (UTC)

I think a reword would be best, since even if we link to Table (parliamentary procedure) or wikt:table#Verb, you still get both meanings described. --Redrose64 (talk) 20:02, 21 May 2013 (UTC)

Primary Legislation[edit]

The article states: "An Act of Parliament[1] in the United Kingdom is a type of legislation called primary legislation". This cannot be true. There is plenty of secondary legislation to disprove the fact. Primary legislation is that which enables or creates new functions, new bodies or organizations or simply enables parliament or Government or a component of either, to carry out further processes. Secondary legislation tends to be specific or based around a narrower set of ideas or functions. As an historical geographer you must forgive me citing old legislation, but in this case it is pertinent since the relevant laws predate Statutory Instruments which act as secondary legislation in many modern cases. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries there were passed various pieces of Primary Legislation in relation to roads and their maintenance. The primary legislation enabled the establishment of the idea of Turnpikes and the creation of Turnpike Trusts to act in place of any other authority to collect tolls, to block up or create by-ways and highways. There then followed secondary legislation where groups of promoters would seek to form a particular turnpike trust for a particular road or roads. The Primary Acts were simply called Turnpike Acts or similar and the secondary Acts would be, for example, the Barnsley to Cudworth Bridge Act 1825 The primary Acts were time limited and therefore required periodic Continuation Acts, which by definition are secondary, and also occasionally they were completely repealed by new Primary Legislation which replaced it.

Another historical set, by way of example, were the Inclosures Acts of the seventeenth to nineteenth century. The Primary legislation created the idea and enabled the formation of these surveys and awards, giving also clear definition of process and regulation. Each proposed inclosure then required specific secondary legislation concerned solely about one settlement or set of inclosures of common-land. There are many other examples even in modern times.Moonraker55 (talk) 19:10, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

@Moonraker55: The article actually states "... a type of legislation called primary legislation." If you follow that blue link, you will find that primary legislation is not at all the same as you are describing here. --Redrose64 (talk) 19:44, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom and the various pre-Union Parliaments are certainly primary legislation. Section 21 of the Human Rights Act 1998 characterizes Acts of the Scottish Parliament and the Parliament of Northern Ireland as subordinate legislation. Strictly speaking, the powers of those legislatures were delegated to them by the Parliament of the United Kingdom. James500 (talk) 20:38, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

@Redrose64: Hi RedRose, my quotation was copied and pasted and is therefore a precise rendition of the statement in the article. The use of language is important because to say "is a type of legislation called primary legislation" is factually inaccurate. Because Acts of Parliament in the United Kingdom may certainly be primary legislation but not ALL Acts are primary, which is the inference in the article. The blue link leads to a general discussion of primary legislation in the sense that is common to all legislatures in most parts of the world, but it is not a definitive statement of exclusivity in terms of Acts of the UK Parliament. My examples were perfectly valid. If you were today to wish to build a new railway in England, for example, you would require an Act of Parliament to do so. This Act would derive its authority from a piece of Primary legislation called the Railways Act which is a public Act of Parliament intended to enable further secondary legislation for specific purposes and also to provide the structure of regulation. Your particular railway would be submitted as a private Bill before Parliament, but when passed it would be an Act of Parliament - even though it is, of itself, secondary legislation.Moonraker55 (talk) 22:36, 20 January 2014 (UTC)
@James500: Hi James, for the same reason that I have given to RedRose and in my original posting I have to say that you are not correct in the assertion that "Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom and the various pre-Union Parliaments are certainly primary legislation." They may be primary legislation but by no means are they always primary legislation. It is true that the pre-Union parliaments would have had the same legislative powers as those in Westminster for England and Wales, but they too would not always have been passing primary legislation. For all sorts of reasons. Throughout history, until recently, there have been things such as Acts of Attainder in England and in Scotland passed following the respective Parliaments sitting as a court. These were bona fide Acts of Parliament but not primary legislation, their authority was derived from primary legislation, usually Treason Acts. When large estates were contested after the death of the landlord who has no children, with or without a will, the settlement of the estates were regularly challenged in the Court of Chancery. When the court had ruled, if the estates involved the crown in any way at all, or because of other important considerations beyond the competence of the court, it would pass to Parliament to be considered and agreed. These to were Acts of Parliament, an example of these post-feudal settlements is 6 Geo IV, c15 "An Act for vesting the fee of certain settled estates, late of Elizabeth Ann Meyrick, deceased situate in the County of York, in trustees upon trust to complete sales made and to be made thereof with the approbation of the High Court of Chancery" 10 June 1825. This secondary legislation derived authority from a whole host of primary legislation and common law, without which Parliament in this case would otherwise have been unable to act.Moonraker55 (talk) 22:36, 20 January 2014 (UTC)
What a silly claim: "Parliament in this case would otherwise have been unable to act." What is your evidence for such a claim? The entire premise of your argument flies in the face of a common understanding of Parliamentary sovereignty. Your claim relies on an understanding that is not agreed upon; since we do not accept the underlying assumptions of your claim, we do not accept your claim. Int21h (talk) 11:39, 21 January 2014 (UTC)
Your argument that acts of attainder are not primary legislation is as true as saying they are not legislation at all; that is certainly a way of looking at it, but if we can accept your view than we can accept my proposed view (they are not legislation at all) which would make your argument, again, fail.
In sum, unless you start giving underlying claims ("their authority was derived from") that we can agree on, there will be not much of a debate: we will say "we don't agree" and that will be the end of the debate. Int21h (talk) 11:58, 21 January 2014 (UTC)
And, just so I'm clear, if you insist on using an underlying claim that is not commonly agreed (e.g., it rejects parliamentary sovereignty) as the basis for your main claim (that your definition is some sort of common definition), then your argument has failed. Int21h (talk) 12:09, 21 January 2014 (UTC)

Reply to Moonraker55: Do you have a source for this alleged definition of "primary legislation"? It is as odds with my understanding of the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty. There have been suggestions that the powers of the present Parliament were delegated to it by the treaties of union, and that legislation passed under the Parliament Act 1911 is delegated legislation, but my understanding is that these arguments have been consistently rejected by the courts. James500 (talk) 00:08, 21 January 2014 (UTC)


@Moonraker55: No. Primary legislation, as I know it, as it is commonly known, is a phrase meant to refer to acts of a legislature. The use of the word "primary" is meant to differentiate it from those institutions and persons who have issued what are commonly known as "regulations" under the primary legislation's authority, in this context sometimes called secondary legislation. Secondary legislation is referred to as such because from a philosophical point of view, such regulations are essentially piggybacking on the power of the primary legislation; the authority of the secondary legislation is essentially an extension of the power of the legislature as expounded by the primary legislation. As I understand it, that is exactly how "regulations" are described at common law, as secondary legislation which derives its authority from the legislature.
You may no doubt find sources with alternate definitions of "primary legislation", just like you will find sources claiming Jews are an inferior etc. However, just because some act of a legislature says as such (primary legislation means something different, Jews are an inferior, etc.) does not really overrule centuries of scholarly opinion of a common definition. I think this point eludes you: the definition is a lay/common definition agreed to over time, not a definition defined at law or by any one institution or entity. Int21h (talk) 11:28, 21 January 2014 (UTC)
Moonraker55 is completely confused, and specifically confuses Public Acts with Primary Legislation. Of course all Acts of Parliament are primary legislation. There is no doubt about that. Secondary legislation is Statutory Instruments or similar issued under the authority of an Act of Parliament. Here are some sources supporting this as examples:
These makes clear that primary legislation is defined as including Public General Acts, Private Acts and Local and Personal Acts i.e. all Acts of Parliament are primary legislation. Where are Moonraker's citations to WP:RS? There are none, because Moonraker's completely off beam. There are no alternative definitions which are materially different - it's not a matter of scholarly debate. Silly discussion. DeCausa (talk) 11:47, 28 January 2014 (UTC)
And, btw, Int21hthe "lay/common definition", as you call it, is exactly the same as that used in modern statutes and all modern law texts. Moonraker 55 has come up with his own definition through mistaken original research. DeCausa (talk) 13:43, 28 January 2014 (UTC)

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