Editor's Choice

Britain's stupidest statutes

Poll shows law making it illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament to be the dumbest piece of legislation in the nation

From Wednesday's Globe and Mail

If you're ever visiting the British Houses of Parliament, don't die. You could be arrested and thrown in jail, because dying in the mother of Parliaments is against the law.

This little-known and archaic piece of legislation has been voted Britain's stupidest law in a poll released yesterday by the television channel UKTV Gold.

It's also illegal to enter Parliament wearing a suit of armour. So, technically, if you die in Parliament while wearing a suit of armour - admittedly an unlikely scenario - you will have broken the law twice.

Other rules deemed utterly stupid in the survey, which the TV channel commissioned to publicize a legal drama, were ones that forbade taxi drivers from carrying rabid dogs or corpses and barred Londoners from keeping pigsties in front of their homes.

A law stating that in Liverpool only a clerk in a tropical-fish store is allowed to be publicly topless was also totally ridiculous, according to the 3,931 people polled, who were given a list of ridiculous laws and asked to vote on them.

The laws and regulations were culled from published research into ancient legislation that has never been repealed, although subsequent statutes have made them obsolete.

For instance, in the 17th century, the Puritan leader Oliver Cromwell ruled that mince pies, Christmas puddings and anything promoting gluttony should be banned at Christmas. The law has never been repealed, and nearly half of those surveyed happily admitted to breaking it.

Among international laws, the one voted most ridiculous was the legislation in Ohio making it illegal to get a fish drunk. Other foreign laws deemed irredeemably dumb included French legislation forbidding anyone from naming a pig Napoleon, a Florida law stipulating that unmarried women who parachute on Sundays could be jailed, and a Vermont ruling that women must obtain written permission from their husbands to wear false teeth.

But before Canadians feel too smug, it should be noted that the Criminal Code still bans people from fighting duels or possessing stink bombs.

With a report from AFP


Dumbest of the dumb: the Top 10

The Top 10 most ridiculous British laws, according to the survey:

1. It is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament.

2. It is an act of treason to place a postage stamp bearing the British monarch upside-down.

3. In Liverpool, it is illegal for a woman to be topless, unless she is a clerk in a tropical-fish store.

4. Mince pies cannot be eaten on Christmas Day.

5. In Scotland, if someone knocks on your door and requires the use of your toilet, you must let them enter.

6. A pregnant woman can legally relieve herself anywhere she wants, including in a policeman's helmet.

7. The head of any dead whale found on the British coast automatically becomes the property of the King, and the tail belongs to the Queen.

8. It is illegal to avoid telling the tax man anything you do not want him to know, but legal not to tell him information you do not mind him knowing.

9. It is illegal to enter the Houses of Parliament in a suit of armour.

10. In the city of York, it is legal to murder a Scotsman within the ancient city walls, but only if he is carrying a bow and arrow.


  1. You (Ottawa Mens Centre.com, from Ottawa - Home of family court flagrant abusers of judicial POWER., Canada) wrote: Canada has a "stupid" legal system. First, you can get to be a lawyer without any personality or mental health screening. Bingo, that allows the most narcissistic of the extreme feminist inteligencia into the legal profession. Some go on to be judges with the indispensable help of feminist politicians. Throw in some menopausal depression and you have some sensational hatred oozing out of the courtroom walls. The same feminist judges don't mind making adjournments to hold hearings for their sisters in the feminist legal world hell bent on protecting some mentally ill violent woman in a custody battle. That's called judge shopping, a taboo subject just as much as mental illness, PMS and lawyers who personally fabricate evidence. Take Joanne Barber of Timmins. Faced with an obvious mentally ill female client, she fabricated allegations in a written submission to a Justice Robert N. Fornier that the father "admitted perjury" when the transcripts show no such admission was ever made. She also made a stack of other equally false allegations and Justice Fornier included all as fact in his decision. Later Justice Stephen O'Neil and Justice W.G. Beatty both ordered trials including an expedited trial of custody, based on the that fraud. Another judge Justice Guy Mahaffy the now North East Regional Senior issued process on 5 charges against the mother for assaulting the father. The mother fled North East Ontario to Kingston, retained Feminist Lawyer Lesley Kendall of the law firm Cunningham Swan Carty Little & Bonham. Leslly Kendal then personally fabricated an affidavit that she was "threatened" by the father. She argued her own evidence in front of Justice Denis Power while asking for a restraining order for her client, not because of any threat to her client but to "end the litigation" which was an expedited trial of custody ordered by Justice W.G. Beatty in Sudbury in September 2001. www.Ottawamenscentre.com 613-797-3237