I’ve mentioned nutty bylaws in my columns before. But I had some time on my hands recently and I decided to track down some of the really daft regulations that are still on the statute books.

For example, I discovered that it is illegal to fish for salmon on Scotland on a Sunday. Reason? Well, many years ago the Church were concerned that their congregation numbers would decrease; given the choice between 3-hour sermons and a day spent on the river bank… Well, you can see where that’s going. Anyway, the result is that if you fish for salmon on a Sunday you can expect to get your collar felt.

Another one? Because of a complex set of rules involving the Queen’s residences and the 1887 Coroners Act, there is legislation in place that prohibits dying in the Houses of Parliament.

Other barmy bans include a 17th Century edict concerning the eating of mince pies on Christmas Days (you have Oliver Cromwell to thank for that one) and another law makes it illegal to enter the Houses of Parliament wearing a suit of armour. Mind you, these days you’d never get past the security metal detector.

There is also a ban on firing a cannon close to a dwelling house (Met Police Act 1839). Shame. That sounds like fun.

My exhaustive research also uncovered that a woman who is pregnant has the legal right to relieve herself anywhere she wants… though there seems to be some argument over the validity of this one. Mind you, I wouldn’t argue with a heavily pregnant lady who needs to go… and needs to go NOW!

Oh, and shopkeepers at The Centre should be warned: it is illegal for a boy under the age of ten to see a naked shop dummy.

But here’s something I’ll bet you didn’t know. There is actually a Statute Law Revision Team. They have been working their way through the statute books and striking out some of the oddities and curiosities. In fact, they have abolished around 2000 laws since 1965. What a great job that would be!

So if you hear of any more ridiculous regulations and dippy directives, please take the time to let me know.

Drew McAdam


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