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Offences that remain on the statute book, though clearly outdated in some cases

handling-salmonOver at the Kernel, Ned Donovan has picked out six of the strangest offences that remain in force, though their present-day usefulness might be called into question.  It’s illegal to “handle a salmon in suspicious circumstances,” which I guess is aimed at nabbing salmon poachers.  You break the law if you discharge artillery “of greater caliber than a common fowling piece” within 300 yards of people.  I’ve not done it myself, and I can see why it might be banned, and if I did it “to the annoyance of any inhabitant,” I’d happily pay the penalty “of not more than five pounds.”  If asked to queue on London Underground by an authorized person, those who push their way forward are breaking the law.  Good thing, too.

I’ve never personally touched a pelican in a Royal Park or open space, though I have touched a deer, without realizing that I needed the Secretary of State’s permission.  As for wearing armour in Parliament, the stature of 1313 still forbids it, though it’s not been tested to see if this includes my modern bullet-proof clothing.  And the next time I’m heading home intoxicated with my cattle, I’ll hope to escape the 40 shilling fine and month in jail that might come my way, though I’m glad to note that it also applies to steam engines as well as cows.  Much more dangerous.


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