Talk:List of Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, 1801–19

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Parliament of Great Britain[edit]

would it make sense to split off the Great Britain legislation to the previous list? It very nearly aligns with a century break, so would be handy. Morwen - Talk 12:41, 25 October 2006 (UTC)

I'm going to do this. Morwen - Talk 16:58, 7 November 2006 (UTC)

Accuracy of listing[edit]

I'm concerned about the accuracy of the short title given for a number of these Acts (not just those for 1801-1819, but also some of the other periods). It appears that someone has taken the listings in the "Chronological Table of the Statutes" and appended the word "Act" and the year after each item given. However, not all Acts (especially earlier ones) have ever been given a formal short title, and I believe that in these cases the Chronological Table merely gives a brief description. I believe that some of those descriptions have unfortunately been blindly turned into short titles here that will only ever exist in this list.

It's a bit difficult to prove that an Act doesn't have a short title, of course, but quite a number of the "short titles" listed appear rather unlikely, and I think it downright improbable that (to use an extreme example) fourteen separate Acts within the same session would all be given the same name by subsequent legislation ("Taxation Act 1801").

Silverhelm 16:25, 11 December 2006 (UTC).

I have a copy of the Short Titles Act 1896, which I presume listed acts still in force at that date. The Taxation/Customs/Importation Acts etcetera didn't make the list of course, so it doesn't help a whole lot. I've checked a few sample acts from the 1896 Act, and the titles given here seem OK. Lozleader 19:04, 11 December 2006 (UTC)
The problem, as you say, is what happened with Acts that weren't included within the scope of the 1896 Act; I don't doubt that those that were are generally going to be correctly listed. A number of the others had already been given short titles in passing by amendment Acts, and those are probably listed correctly as well. But that leaves a lot of Acts that would have been repealed by the 1890s, slipped through the net, or were considered too obscure or inconsequential to merit a name.
Since I happened to be looking some other stuff up today in the "Chronological Table", I had a quick look at their introductory notes; supposedly when they've used descriptions they've been identified by the use of square brackets, but I'm sure that this principle has only observed by them for unrepealed legislation.
Short of going through every Act of Parliament from the doubtful ones onward, though, I guess it's going to be difficult for me to objectively prove my suspicions. But I really cannot see that there would have been (say) fourteen different "Taxation Act 1801"s! There are numerous similar examples to be found in the lists, as well as a number of "short titles" that look plain suspicious (some of the ones with a colon, for example). Unfortunately the only remotely practical solution I can think of is to strip out all the Acts that are redlinked, and police the lists so that each and every entry that is then added has evidence to support its inclusion. I have my own list of around 4,000 Acts that notes whether the short title I have is from the Act itself or from a reliable secondary source (eg, another Act), for example.
It would help if whoever added all these entries had noted what their source was! I would certainly put a shilling on it being what I guessed above; entries from the "Chrological Table" with the word "Act" and the year appended.
Silverhelm 22:17, 11 December 2006 (UTC).
Other suspect items are various "Inclosures Act"s (as opposed to "Inclosure Act"s, which I seem to be able to verify; it's also suspicious that there's only one of the latter in any year, but sometimes three or four of the former), and variations on the theme of "Confirmation of [Certain] Marriages Act". As far as the latter goes, I think it's telling that the Foreign Marriage (Amendment) Act 1988, which repealed a whole load of these, only gives a short title for one or two (and the ones listed explicitly named what part of the world they were for, whereas the ones listed on these lists are utterly generic); given that the Law Commission was involved, it seems doubtful that so many short titles would have been overlooked if they actually existed. I'm sure that this is another case of the "Chronological Table" giving a brief description that has been misinterpreted as a short title.
I know none of these are conclusive as such, but I'm trying to provide specific examples to support my argument.
[Apologies for poorly structured sentences here, btw. Brain dead!]
Silverhelm 02:42, 12 December 2006 (UTC).

I suppose someone could go through the statute books and add the long titles to the dodgy ones. My local reference library has most of them for the nineteenth century; if their titles are indexed, I could photocopy them and slowly add them. The chance of most of these acts ever getting an article of their own is remote, though. Also, seeing as a lot of these act titles are fictional, would it not be better (logical) to arrange them in chapter order? Lozleader 10:05, 12 December 2006 (UTC)

Regarding the long titles, perhaps what I've been doing for the List of Acts of the Parliament of Ireland could be the basis for English/British legislation also. Many of those Acts lack a short title, and originally were listed with a brief description. In a number of cases I've replaced that description with the long title; in others, the long title would be far too long and unwieldy, so I've rewritten or expanded the description (and identified it with "Re"). It still all needs work (I think some of the long titles I've added in should perhaps be replaced with a description, for example). I've also been italicising both long titles and descriptions, mainly so that the short titles stand out better, but perhaps a better approach would be to italicise descriptions only (and to remark as such at the head of the list)?
As for what order the lists are in, my initial feeling was that they should be in chapter no. order, and hence in chronological order. However, on further reflection, I'm not sure that would be very useful for a general-purpose encyclopedia. Although it would be a lot of work (and I'd be entirely happy to do it myself), I would suggest that there should in fact be two separate listings:
  1. Strictly alphabetic (ie, regardless of date), and
  2. Strictly chronological.
I'm not sure how Acts lacking a short title could be dealt with for the first of those, however; perhaps they should simply be omitted from that listing, or there should be a side listing of Acts that lack a short title?
Silverhelm 16:49, 12 December 2006 (UTC).
All the acts I have added have been cross-checked against the legal database justis, and may not be the actual short titles (because one has not been assigned), but are verifiable. Kurando | ^_^ 12:52, 12 December 2006 (UTC)
Ah. As far as I'm aware there is no official database listing Acts of Parliament (the UK government has a statute database but it took as its starting point the law in effect as of (I think) 1991), so I would guess that Justis.com have indeed done what I suggested above, and just added the word "Act" and the year to each item in the "Chronological Table". Incidentally, that site no longer seems to offer a search for legislation; "Quick Search" just goes to a tutorial. Unless perhaps you're a subscriber?
The above aside, I'd also suggest that we (I) reformat the listings using tables; perhaps something like this, but with alternating colour-coding to identify changes of calendar year and session:
Year Session Chapter Title/description
1868 31 & 32 Vict. c. 33 Cotton Statistics Act 1868
I'd also suggest that, for the lists prior to 1963, the now extremely long TOCs be replaced with two much smaller ones; one for the calendar years (this could be generated automatically by having sectional breaks in the table with each change of calendar year), and one for the sessions (if in-page anchors are possible in wiki-language in the same way that they are in HTML).
Silverhelm 16:49, 12 December 2006 (UTC).
Perhaps if the lists were converted into tables, as an interim step Acts with a confirmed short title could be colour-coded? That way it'd work as a common self-maintaining check list. Once a significant proportion have been verified, perhaps then it could be switched around so that the unverified titles would be the ones that are highlighted. Silverhelm 03:54, 13 December 2006 (UTC).
Maybe try tabulating a section and see what it looks like? Updating all the TOCS is something I am also keen on, but it is quite a task - I did start to do the "short" 1700-1706 page but even that got a bit hairy and I'm afraid I gave up until I have more time to devote to the job. Kurando | ^_^ 09:42, 13 December 2006 (UTC)
A good idea. I'll have a stab at 1707-1719, though; all those "private" Acts in the other list make my head hurt! I'll post back here when I've mocked something up on a dummy page. Silverhelm 17:10, 13 December 2006 (UTC).

I don't think that this is just a problem of missing short titles. The list features:

  • Lunatics Act 1845 c. 100
  • Lunatics Act 1845 c. 126

- which should, from a quick Google seach, be:

  • Lunacy Act 1845 c. 100
  • County Asylums Act 1845 c. 126

Is there any reason for me not just leaping in and fixing this if it's obvious? Cutler 10:21, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

Draft reformat[edit]

Okay, following on from the above discussion, I've put together a draft reformat at User:Silverhelm/Playpen/List of Acts of Parliament, using the current list for 1707-19. The main changes are as follows:

  • The Acts for each calendar year have been grouped together into a single table.
  • Verified short titles have been highlighted (I have very little material for this period, so there are only a few of these at present).
  • The "short titles" that are (in my view) either clearly wrong or very doubtful have been stripped down to a description; these stand out clearly as they're the only items not wiki-linked.
  • The auto-generated TOC has been replaced with two, much smaller, ones, for calendar years and parliamentary sessions respectively.

Clearly that third item is relatively subjective. I erred on the side of caution, but broadly speaking I've taken any of the names that appeared more than once in a year (eg "National Debt Act", "Taxation Act", etc.) to be a strong indicator of an incorrect short title, and likewise for those with a colon, or with a place identifier separated by a comma. A few others "just felt wrong" so I stripped them down as well. Other changes of possible interest are:

  • The format "1 Geo. I" (etc.) has been amended to "1 Geo. 1", in line with the more common practice for legal citation.
  • I've replaced the side box with an experimental revised version that doesn't take up so much horizontal space (amongst other changes).

About the only thing I haven't done is shuffled the Acts into strict chronological order; I've left them in the current sequence so that it's easier to compare the "before" and "after". At the moment it's my intention to change the list to a strictly chronological one when putting it up "live".
I've also left the introductory text unchanged for now.
Finally, I've put a possible new article name at the top of the page. The reason for the suggested changes should be self-apparent.
I think that's everything...! Silverhelm 09:03, 14 December 2006 (UTC).

Good work. Do you think that years with more than one session should be in the same table? Concerning the short titles, I'm not sure that they are that dubious, they may in fact be, as you say, the entry from the chronological table of statutes with the word Act and the year appended, but it's reasonbly descriptive. The fact there are several acts of the same name does not surprise me, as even today we have acts named Appropriation Act 2005, Appropriation (No. 2) Act 2005 and Appropriation (No. 3) Act 2005. On the other hand, it isn't unreasonable to unlink them because they are highly unlikely to ever be written about, highly probably repealed, possibly not particularly significant to the modern reader. And they can always be relinked if necessary. As to order, I mainly stuck to the way things had been done previously. I suppose that alphabetical makes it easier for the reader, but chronological makes it easier for editors to update. I also agree with the proposed new title. Kurando | ^_^ 11:58, 14 December 2006 (UTC)

I'm not 100% certain about the "all sessions together" thing. But I think on balance it's best to simplify things a bit by having one table per year (obviously what this might look like would have been better demonstrated with a different period). The possible approaches seem to me to be:
  • a new table with each change of calendar year; or
  • a new table with each change of session; or
  • a new table with each change of calendar year or session.
I can't really come up with a carefully thought-out rationale for preferring simplifying things to calendar years. One issue with using the third option (essentially what the lists currently use) is that it could mean around forty tables for some twenty-year blocks. And although it's important (in my view) that the session should be identified for each Act, I don't think any of us really think of Acts as being "from" a particular session, but rather we think of them in terms of what year they were enacted. Possibly that's influenced by the modern convention for citation. Anyway, one improvement that I could perhaps make to the tables if we go down the "one table only per calendar year" road is to use alternating colour-coding for sessions. In my mock-up that would only be really obvious for the change from 1 Geo. 1 St. 1 to 1 Geo. 2 St. 2, but I think it would remove the most obvious problem with having them in the same table; ie, it would reduce the risk of not noticing a change in session (those two sessions are quite a good example of how easily they might be confused, since they differ by just one digit).
Perhaps I could put together a second "mock-up" using a list where the sessions typically overlap changes of calendar year, to see what colour-coding might look like in practice?
Regarding the "multiple name" busines, note that the examples you've given are clearly distinguished by the "(No. 2)" etc. I noticed the other day that the "Chronological Table of the Statutes" footnoted a genuine case of two Acts in the same year (session?) having identical short titles. It was the only example from 1801 through to the late 1860s, though. As argued above, however, I feel sure that the "Chronological Table" uses only descriptions for quite a number of Acts, and that it doesn't distinguish between descriptions and short titles for repealed Acts. In all cases it omits the word "Act" and the year, so it's hard to directly demonstrate this either way. One subtle hint might be use of capitalisation, though. Anyway, it's almost certainly the only "database" of Acts of Parliament, and it seems very probable that the website you mentioned earlier would have used it as its source; any other alternative would be an expensive exercise. A final remark on this issue is that some of the titles that I'm disputing simply "don't sound right". I appreciate that's a rather nebulous thing, but even though the language used has evolved over time, there is a definite "rhythm" to the naming of Acts. Most of them have a particular "feel" to them, and a number of the ones we've got just don't fit in. Of course, some that are beyond doubt, particularly the early Acts which provided their own short titles, "sound odd" as well. As I've said before, it's extremely difficult to prove that a given Act doesn't have a short title. I'm being forced to rely a bit on "trust me, I know I'm right", unfortunately!
Anyway, you'll see that where I have changed "short titles" to descriptions, I've not altered the description other than some change of capitalisation. Hopefully this is a reasonably non-destructive approach. Combined with the delinking, it would be light work to identify them and convert them back if I were proven to be wrong.
Finally(!), I think having parallel lists, one alphabetical, one chronological, is the way to go. The current ordering is neither really chronological nor alphabetical, and perhaps falls between stools. Once a purely alphabetical listing has been set up, it should be fairly easy to maintain. It does mean duplication, of course, but in the absence of being able to use a database, it's the only way of doing it. If we (I) do this, I'd suggest that my initial list should then be "Chronological list of Acts of the Parliament of Great Britain, 1707-1719", and the others might then be "Alphabetical list of British Acts of Parliament". That then raises the questions of whether the pre-union alphabetical lists should be kept separate, which partly defeats the object, or if they were merged together (and the table could easily identify with a letter code which Parliament was responsible), what would be a good title? Either way, it would presumably be sensible to break the alphabetical list into bite-size chunks (perhaps one for each letter of the alphabet would be the most user-intuitive, although it would mean wildly differing lengths).
Another possibility, although it would involve a hell of a lot of work (and is probably too difficult to fully complete) would be to create a third list that is thematic; I'm just throwing that into the ring to see what the response is. It's easy enough to come up with broad categories that are reasonably descriptive (the monarchy, Parliament, colonial law, customs and taxation, elections, local government, turnpikes, devolution, etc. etc.), although what should go where might prove tricky. Of course, there's no reason why a given Act couldn't appear under more than one category if necessary.
Too many thoughts and ideas!!
Silverhelm 17:03, 14 December 2006 (UTC).
There are so many acts it would be nice to have different methods of searching, ie. chronological and alphabetical. I'm not sure if there are list guidelines which frown on that sort of thing? I also wonder if whilst we are restructung these lists, it might be best to split them up further - they are all quite long, possibly down to decade or even by year for the 18th and 19th centuries when there were 100-200 acts per session.
On the thematic listing, this is done to some extent in the category Acts of Parliament by subject, of course this only lists acts with articles. Some articles also contain lists of related acts: History of British nationality law and Department for Constitutional Affairs come to mind. Kurando | ^_^ 12:23, 15 December 2006 (UTC)
The English lists could certainly do with being shuffled about, I would say. Perhaps something like:
  • [mediaeval]
  • [Tudor]
  • 1603-1649
  • 1649-1660 [I think this period deserves special treatment]
  • 1660-1706
As for the British lists, I absolutely agree with you that they're going to be (or are already) far too long, particularly if all the personal and local Acts are to be included. I think the approach to take is to (a) reformat, (b) verify, and then (c) split, as separate steps in the process. I'll start converting the post-1801 lists and posting them up "live". If I add to my integrity check the ranges from the OPSI's website for the other Acts, and perhaps add totals, that should give us the best possible evidence for settling a fairly permanent length for each list.
Incidentally, it's quite interesting how the number of Acts various over time. My notes could probably form the basis for an interesting little bit of material for the main article on Acts of Parliament. Of course they won't reveal the actual length or complexity of Acts, which is the other main complaint about Parliament's work!
Silverhelm 21:04, 15 December 2006 (UTC).

Plan for reformatting (etc.) of lists[edit]

Okay, here's my proposed strategy (this is in part a summary of the rather lengthy text above):

Phase 1 (as per my draft reformat)

  • Lists are converted into table format.
  • Doubtful short titles are converted to unlinked descriptions.
  • Legislation box is replaced with narrower/reformatted version.
  • Sessional citations are converted from "43 Geo. III" format to more usual modern format of "43 Geo. 3".
  • Replace massive automated TOC with two separate manual ones, for calendar years and parliamentary sessions respectively.

Only when Phase 1 has been completed for every one of the lists will Phase 2 be started.

Phase 2 (as per my draft reformat) Rename lists to avoid redundancy of word "Parliament" and to distinguish between "Great Britain" and "United Kingdom".

Only when Phase 2 has been completed for every one of the lists will Phase 3 be started.

Phase 3 Create parallel alphabetical lists (exact details to be decided).

Only when Phase 3 has been completed will Phase 4 be started.

Phase 4 Convert the original lists to strict chronological ordering.

Phase 5 Split original lists further, to reduce size. As part of this process, I'd suggest that the current English list for the period up to 1603 is split in two (mediaeval and Tudor), with the mediaeval list then being merged with (or into) Kurando's list of English statutes; this split would reflect the change in nature of the documents themselves (from statutes in the older sense, to Acts of Parliament as we use the term today).

Parallel to the above is the question of verification. Having thought a little more about this point, it seems to me that the nature of the source for each and every short title should be given. Clearly it would be impractical to use the standard <ref></ref> system for so many individual items, so I'd suggest using a colour-coding scheme based on the following categories:

  • Short title verified against original text of the Act concerned
  • Short title verified against original text of the Short Titles Act
  • Short title verified against original text of any other Act that gave it to the Act concerned
[for example, the Trustee Savings Banks Act 1863 was named by the Trustee Savings Banks Act 1887; I'd suggest that Acts in this category are footnoted or "ref"d]
  • Short title used as a reference in other legislation
  • Short title given in any other reputable source
[for example, in the text of Halsbury's Laws; or in the reports, etc, of bodies such as the Law Commission, or of the Republic of Ireland's Office of the Attorney General]

A small number of Acts seem to have the format "[subject] Act (Ireland) [year]". Modern practice reserves this format for pre-union legislation, and even in the nineteenth century these post-union Acts were also being referred to in the now more familiar format of "[subject] (Ireland) Act [year]". Possibly these should only be considered verifiable against the original enactment of their short title, with perhaps the other form being given as "(also known as ...)". Otherwise there's too much likelihood of problems due to contradictory information.

Silverhelm 19:17, 18 December 2006 (UTC).

Current progress[edit]

I've now started on the Phase 1 reformatting for 1801-1819. Silverhelm 19:17, 18 December 2006 (UTC).

Comment[edit]

Sorry, I only heard of this discussion when a note of it was posted on another list.

  • The correct citation is by regnal year (not calendar year) until mid-20th century, so that the regnal years should be given predominance. Short titles did not officailly exist until late 19th century, when some were retrospectively imposed by the Short Titles Act. In the 18th century, at least, the Parliamentary session ran until May or June, and the majority of Acts were given royal assent when the king closed the session. This accorded with the fiction that all Acts of a session formed a single statute of which the Acts were chapters. If there were two sessions in a year, there were two statutes, with a separate series of chapter numbers. I would encourage you to tabulated in regnal year/chapter format.
  • This article (and others of the kind) have a terribly large number of redlinks. We probably never will have articles on many of these, so that retaining a redlink is pointless, unless there is good reason to believe that there should be an article. Similar delinking has also been done with lists of peers.
  • Breakpoints: Reigns will probably work well, for some periods. George III may need 2 or three articles. Elizabeth; 1603-1640; 1660-1689; 1689-1707; 1707-1727; George II; etc. There were no Acts for 1649-1660; what there were are usually referred to as Ordinances, but they all lapsed at the Restoration, as enacted under 'usurping powers'. The best of the legislation was re-enacted in 1660 and 1661.
  • Order of columns: I would suggest: Session/chapter/calendar year/Official short title (if any) (with reference - e.g. Short Titles Act)/Description/See (this is for articles dealing with the subject matter: an article may deal with a series of Acts on the same subject). I have occasionally dablinked an Act to a relevant article, but that would be better in a column of its own. Peterkingiron (talk) 16:39, 14 December 2009 (UTC)