Why it took fewer pages to set out the laws Margaret Thatcher’s government passed
In the Lords yesterday, the former Tory MP Michael Bates was lamenting that we are governed by too many laws. All the statutes passed during the reigns of all the monarchs from King John to King George VI filled 26 volumes of that authoritative compendium, Halesbury’s Statutes. The laws passed during the current 60 year reign fill 48 volumes. As a Tory, Lord Bates was first delighted and then disillusioned as he examined evidence that this process may have been briefly reversed under Margaret Thatcher, who had vowed to roll back the frontiers of the state.
“One gets a momentary frisson of Thatcherite zeal when one comes to 1986-87 and sees that the tide of legislation momentarily abates, before resuming its upward course,” Lord Bates said. “Then one looks at the footnotes and finds that it was in that year that the Queen’s printer moved from using the A5 page size to A4.”
So, Thatcher’s laws filled fewer pages because they doubled the page size.
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