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Highways law: Law Commission aims to repeal ancient turnpike rule

The Law Commission has announced that it plans to repeal an ancient law relating to the road between Anglesey and London.

The move comes as part of a wider campaign by the Commission to repeal ancient and obsolete measures, including a legal provision for highway building and repairs between London and Holyhead.

The so-called turnpike legislation permitted the charging of tolls on parts of these roads as far back as 1895. The Law Commission has argued that removing such laws will result in a more intelligible statute book.

Sir James Munby is the current Chairman of the Law Commission.

"We are committed to ridding the statute book of meaningless provisions from days gone by and making sure our laws are relevant to the modern world," he said.

The law in question relates to turnpike roads, which were roads upon which tolls were paid. The name is derived from the frame of pikes which could be turned in the ground to allow horses to pass through.

The road itself between London and Holyhead predates the Roman occupation of Britain, which is thought to have commenced around 40AD. By the early nineteenth century the travelling time of three days was deemed to be inconvenient, and Thomas Telford proposed that the route be rebuilt.

The repealing of this law is one of many which will be unveiled this summer as part of a Statute Law (Repeals) Bill. The Bill is expected to be the largest ever produced, repealing some 817 whole Acts, and part repealing a further 50. Subjects of the endangered legislation include relief for the poor, lotteries and Indian railways.

The earliest repealed provision dates back to 1322, and the most recent to 2010.

"This report and draft bill are a great achievement for the Law Commission," added Sir Munby.

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