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“Declaration, that no Law of a Date anterior to that "of the new Code can continue to have any Force."
In consequence, however, of some legal Difficulties, which at a very late Period presented themselves, it was deemed expedient that this Consummation should be deferred to a future Season; the general Clause was withdrawn for the present, and the Operation of the Repeal upon the Acts enumerated was postponed for the Space of Six Months.
Former Laws may be annulled by later without being expressly repealed; but as Apprehensions of Difficulties which might arise from the clashing of Two Sets of Laws in apparent Existence at the same Time, were expressed by several Members who had applied themselves to the Bills in their Progress through the House, Mr. Herries brought in the Clause which was inserted in Cap. 111. § 17, and which was deemed sufficient to obviate all Objections to the Mode adopted.
It is to be expected, that before the Expiration of the Six Months alluded to, every legal Difficulty will be adjusted, and an impassable Line will be drawn between the old and the new Laws.
The Reason and the Object assigned, in the Preamble to the repealing Act, for this extensive Measure of Legislation, are," that the Laws of the Customs have become "intricate by reason of the great Number of the Acts "relating thereto, which have been passed through a long "Series of Years," and, therefore, " that the Purposes "for which they have from Time to Time been made, "should be secured by new Enactments, exhibiting more. 66 perspicuously and compendiously the various Provisions "contained in them;" and this for "the Convenience "and Facility" of Two Descriptions of Persons, those "who may be subjected to the Operation of those Laws, and those who may be authorized to act in the Execution "of them."
So sensibly, indeed, had the intricate State of this great Body of Laws been long felt, and so urgent appeared the Necessity of making some Effort to rescue them from entire Confusion, that, about the Year 1810, the Lords of the Treasury deemed it advisable to avail themselves of the laborious Services of Mr. Jickling, and to sanction the Preparation of a "Digest of the Laws of the Customs" by that Gentleman.
In 1815, this Work was published; it is intituled "A "Digest of the Laws of the Customs, comprising a Summary of the Statutes in force from the earliest Period to "the 53d Geo. III. inclusive ;" and the Intention of the Work is described by Mr. Jickling to be," to exhibit the "Substance of this Body of Laws divested of all ex"traneous Matter, and arranged in the Form of a con"venient and practical Digest." The Volume is well known in the Public Departments, and it contains 1,375 pages large Quarto.
The Effect, however, of fresh Enactments to render unserviceable previous Expositions of Laws so extensive and so variable, became obvious from the Productions of a few succeeding Sessions of Parliament; and at length, the Lords of the Treasury gave Mr. Jickling Directions to prepare a Continuation of the Work, with a View to an annual Supplement, or some periodical Publication, by which the actual State of the Law should be brought up to the End of every Session.
And, indeed, so numerous, and in many Instances so subtle, were the Alterations which had been made, in the Objects and Methods of the Laws, since the Session of the 53d Geo. III., that it had become not only useless, but dangerous, to consult the Digest in framing the new Bills.
After this intended Work had been some Time in Hand, and when considerable Progress had been made in it, the more effectual Measure of "Consolidation” was re
commended, in the 14th Report of the Commissioners of Enquiry; and, happily, when the Period arrived for the Determination of Government upon that Suggestion, Mr. Herries, who had been a Member of that Board, was in a Situation to give Effect to his own Project. So much, indeed, was the Difficulty of the Work over-rated by many Persons in high Stations, that the Question was for a while suspended between the palliative Remedy of a " Digest" or Abstract, and the effectual Cure of a "Consolidation," and but for the Exertions of Mr. Herries, by whom, as Secretary to the Treasury, all the Bills were introduced into the House of Commons, and carried through their Stages, and who had satisfied his own Mind of the Practicability of the Design, it is probable that the Public would have been left to apply and adapt, as it best could, a few Hundred more Quarto Pages of Digest to the 1,375 already in its Possession.
A more laborious Work than Mr. Jickling's Digest of the Laws of the Customs, can hardly be conceived; a more accurate Work of equal Magnitude was, perhaps, hardly ever produced, and it is no Disparagement to him that the Nature of the Subject offered a better Mode of proceeding than that upon which he had been employed.
The Compiler of this Volume, now presented to the Public, entered cheerfully upon the Task of "Consolidation;" but he would not have had sufficient Confidence in his own Industry to have undertaken such a Work as the "Digest."
The Lords of the Treasury, having decided in Favour of "Consolidation," Mr. Jickling was apprized that he should proceed no further with his Supplement; and in fulfilment of the Alteration adopted, after some necessary Communication with the Commissioners of the Customs, relative to the Selection of a Person to whom might be confided the Preparation of suitable Bills for the Introduction of the new Code, Mr. Hume, the Controller of the
Port of London, received the following Letter of Appointment from the Lords of the Treasury, to that Service.
Treasury Chambers, August 9, 1823. The Board of Customs having stated to the Lords Commissioners of His Majesty's Treasury that they consider you the Person most competent to undertake the Preparation of a General Law, or Set of Laws, for the Consolidation of the Customs of the United Kingdom; I have it in command to acquaint you, that my Lords, having entire Confidence in your Industry and Ability, have been pleased to approve of the Recommendation of the Commissioners of the Customs, and have directed them to afford you such Assistance during the Performance of this laborious and difficult Undertaking, and to make such other Arrangements as they may think proper for the due Execution of this Service.
I am also commanded to desire you will submit to my Lords, through the Board of Customs, a general Plan of the Method you propose to adopt for the Execution of this Work, as soon as you have made such Progress in it as will enable you to do so.
J. D. Hume, Esq.
I am, Sir,
Mr. Hume was selected for this Service, for his supposed practical Knowledge of the Business of the Department, and not for legal Knowledge, which he could not possibly possess. He had been compelled for many Years to perform the daily Duties of his Office, under the Directions of this Mass of Laws; and having learnt their Meaning, rather from the Transactions under them than from them, it was supposed that he might frame a Compilation of Instructions and Provisions for effecting their Objects more readily than any professional Man, who would have to learn his Subject by the Study of the Laws themselves.
To the practical Business of the Customs-that which actually takes place between the Officer and the Merchant or Ship Owner, Mr. Hume has confined his Efforts as nearly as possible. Mr. Thackeray, One of the Solicitors of the Customs, was, at his Request, appointed to assist him in all Matters connected with legal Jurisdiction; and to him those Subjects have been wholly confided, except such as related peculiarly to Ireland, and those were intrusted to Sir Thomas Tomlins.
The Smuggling Act is entirely the Work of Mr. Thackeray, who brought to it precisely the same description of practical Knowledge of the Machinations of the Smuggler, as Mr. Hume was supposed to have of the Business of the Merchant.
It is not less politic than just, to point out those Parts of the Work, for which Mr. Hume neither claims Merit, nor acknowledges Responsibility. If, as a practical Officer of the Customs, he has succeeded in effectually expressing all the Objects of the old Acts intended to be retained, and of interweaving in the new Acts the great Changes in our Commercial and Colonial Systems, which were made in the last Session; and if the Acts for all these Purposes (including, besides the Smuggling Act just mentioned, Tariffs, and Tables, or Schedules, which admit of no Compression) have been kept within the Compass of 286 Pages of the Copies of the King's Printer; it may be hoped that he has faithfully performed the Service for which he was appointed by the Lords of the Treasury, although he disclaims all Title to legal Knowledge in the technical or professional Sense of the Term.
The Acts received the Royal Assent on the 5th July 1825; and the Lords of the Treasury having resolved that an authorized Edition, in a convenient Form, should be prepared for the Use of the Departments of Government; and that Merchants, Ship Owners, and the Public generally, should have the Means afforded for supplying them