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subject, or amends or repeals in whole or in part preexisting acts. Too often they are badly expressed, redundant, obscure and confusing. The original act dealing with any important subject is buried under amendments covering a period of years, the product of many different draftsmen, each looking at some particular point or points, and regardless of the scheme of the act as a whole, until in many instances it is a mass of inconsistencies and contradictions. The same subject is often covered by different independent acts, and sections of acts are amended after they have been repealed. Unrelated subjects are sometimes covered by the same section of an act. Years ago, after a diligent search for the law which authorized the affairs of a railroad company owning a railroad of less than twenty miles in length to be managed by a board of seven directors instead of thirteen as required by the general act, I found it at last in a section of an act requiring drinking water to be kept in passenger cars. These being the common methods of legislation, the result in this State is over a hundred volumes of statutes with only the index of each volume as a clue to its contents, and no authorized index whatever to their contents as a whole. To ascertain what has been enacted concerning any given subject at first hand may require the examination of a dozen or more acts, each the product of some specific need or emergency, and, taken as a whole, embodying different and divergent views rather than a single scheme. Practically it can only be ascertained at second hand with the help of private and entirely unauthoritative compilations, based on whatever principle of classification may have been adopted, and which may or may not be accurate and exhaustive as to any particular subject. It is therefore apparent that the process of statute-making must be supplemented by other processes to
secure order, intelligibility and accessibility. What they are is not a matter of experiment or speculation, as experience shows them in operation and has demonstrated their efficiency. Their necessity is really self-evident, and they should be regarded not as exceptional measures of relief, but as normal concomitants of legislative activity. They are, periodical revision and consolidation based on some well-defined principle or method of classification, which, once adopted, should be preserved; the expurgation by direct repeal of defunct acts; the periodical republication of the living statute law of general application in an authorized form; and an index to the subject-matter of all statutes in force and a chronological table comprehending all the statutes of the State from the beginning, and showing as to each statute total or partial repeals or how otherwise affected by later acts; both index and table to be kept by frequent revision reasonably up to date. This enumeration may seem elaborate and complicated, but, as a matter of fact, each of its elements is a purely practical measure and a necessary part of a complete system. It is not a program of innovations urged on theoretical grounds or as a radical scheme of reform. We are dealing with conditions inseparable from the legislative development of law everywhere, and the sensible course is to select the expedients which have proved to be the most efficient and useful. The multiplication of separate acts over a period of years bearing on the same subject itself suggests, and ultimately compels, revision and consolidation, and that is what has actually taken place. From particular consolidation and revision it is only a step to the conception of general consolidation and revision and the incorporation of the results into one body of law; and that, here and there, at one time and another, so far as general or public acts are concerned, has been
in some degree accomplished. The publication by the authority of the State of the statute law in force as so revised is an established policy, and an index with a chronological table such as has been indicated has a precedent for its pattern. Thus, in the measures suggested as necessarily supplemental to the process of legislation to form a complete, coherent and intelligible system, there is no new departure or anything that is not sanctioned by experience. Underlying them as their real justification is the imperative and paramount duty of a legislating State to maintain its statute law in such a form that it is reasonably clear and readily ascertainable. Whatever expense that may involve is infinitesimal in comparison with the public service rendered and the expenditure on much less important matters.
These general views are illustrated and confirmed by what has been done in England with respect to its statute law. The problem there was presented in its most difficult and complicated form, because its legislation runs back over 600 years to the reign of Henry III, and so much of it was not published in any regular or authorized form. Still, in essentials, the conditions there and here are much alike, as might be expected from the relationship between the two countries and the similarity of their institutions. It was the powerful influence of Bentham that initiated practical law reform; but long before his time the condition of the statute law of the nation had been the subject of comment. As early as the year 1551 Edward VI had written, "I have showed my opinion heretofore what statutes I think most necessary to be enacted this session. Nevertheless, I would wish that, besides them hereafter, when time shall serve, the superfluous and tedious statutes were brought into one sum together, and made more plain and short, to the intent
that men might better understand them; which thing will much help to advance the profit of the Commonwealth.” In the time of Queen Elizabeth a scheme was proposed in part as follows: "First, where many lawes be made for one thing the same are to be reduced and established into one lawe and the former to be abrogated. Item, where there is but one lawe for one thing, that these are to remain in case as they be. Item, that all the acts be digested into titles and printed according to the abridgement of the statutes. Item, where part of one acte standeth in force and another part abrogated there shall be no more printed but that that standeth in force." Lord Bacon took a wider view and in 1616 proposed a digest or recompiling of the common law as well as the statutes, and as to the latter suggested the repeal of "all statutes which are sleeping and not of use, but yet snaring and in force," and "the reducing of convenient statutes heaped one upon another to one clear and uniform law." But this historical aspect of the matter must not detain us, interesting as it is in showing that our ancestors were discussing the same questions along the same general lines. It is the achievements of a much later time that have a direct bearing and interest. The first body to carry out the work of statute reform in a systematic and comprehensive way was the Statute Law Committee appointed in 1868, and we have the results of its labors for our instruction and guidance. They may be summarized as follows: (1) In 1870 an index to the subject-matter of the statutes in force, and a chronological table of all the statutes from the earliest act of Parliament showing total or partial repeals and amendments; (2) between 1870 and 1878 an edition in fifteen volumes of the statutes in force brought down to 1868, later supplemented by three more. volumes bringing the revision down to 1878; (3) a second
edition of the statutes in force bringing the revision down to 1886; (4) numerous so-called revision bills repealing defunct acts and abbreviating others; (5) consolidation acts bringing together in one act all the statutes bearing on the same subject, such as merchant shipping; and (6) an annual volume of the general acts passed during the year, containing an index of its contents and various tables enumerating the local and private acts passed during the session, and showing the effect of the year's legislation on public general acts. It is worth noting that, to facilitate the passage through Parliament of consolidating and repealing bills, the practice was adopted in 1892 of referring every bill of the kind to a joint committee of the two houses of Parliament, thereby minimizing the objection that Parliament was merely a passive factor in such legislation. To sum up what has been accomplished, I quote a passage from the able and interesting work on "Legislative Methods and Forms," by Sir Courtenay Ilbert, who is probably the most distinguished authority on the subject to-day. He says:
"It will have been seen that the plan for systematic improvement of the statute law initiated by Lord Westbury, with the approval and sanction of Lord Cairns and Lord Selborne, involved a four-fold task: (1) Indexing; (2) Expurgation; (3) Republication; (4) Consolidation. The work of indexing has been placed on a satisfactory footing. The work of expurgation and republication has been carried down to a recent date, and is practically complete for the present. The work of consolidation has come to a standstill."
Legislative bodies have their humors, and since 1896 Parliament has failed to enact any consolidation bills.
I cannot leave what has been done in England without emphasizing the value and importance of the Chrono