1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Consolidation Acts

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CONSOLIDATION ACTS. To “consolidate” (Lat. consolidare, from con-, together, and solidus, firm) is to press compactly together, put on a firm basis, and especially bring together into one strong whole. The practice of legislating for small portions of a subject only at a time, which is characteristic of the English parliament, produces as a necessary consequence great confusion in the statute law. The acts relating to any subject of importance or difficulty will be found to be scattered over many years, and through the operation of clauses partially repealing or amending former acts, the final sense of the legislature becomes enveloped in unintelligible or contradictory expressions. Where opportunity offers, the law thus expressed in many statutes is sometimes recast in a single statute, called a Consolidation Act. Among such are acts dealing with the customs, stamps and stamp duties, public health, weights and measures, sheriffs, coroners, county courts, housing, municipal corporations, libraries, trustees, copyhold, diseases of animals, merchant shipping, friendly societies, &c. These observations apply to the public general acts of the legislature. On the other hand, in settling private acts, such as those relating to railway and canal enterprise, the legislature always inserted certain clauses founded on reasons of public policy applicable to the business in question. To avoid the necessity of constantly re-enacting the same principles in private acts, their common clauses were embodied in separate statutes, and their provisions are ordered to be incorporated in any private act of the description mentioned therein. Such are the Lands Clauses Acts, the Companies Clauses Acts and the Railways Clauses Acts.