Lists of Acts of Parliament relating to the Post Office: Scope and Format
These pages list Acts of Parliament that have a Post Office connection – from the earliest such Act known, passed during the Commonwealth period, up to the present day. Unless otherwise stated, the Acts are Public General Acts of the Parliament of England up to Union in 1707, the Parliament of Great Britain from 1707 to 1800, and the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1801. Acts of the Scottish Parliament before 1707 are marked, and Acts of the Irish Parliament of 1783-1800 are marked.
The core of the list was taken from the schedules in the Post Office (Repeal of Laws) Act 1837. This was one of a group of five Acts passed on that day to consolidate the confusing mess of postal Acts that were still in force, some passed over a century earlier. It repealed nearly 100 old Acts. Other texts and references have been drawn from a variety of places including original printed copies of the Acts, digitised versions in Google Books, and of course Wikipedia and other online sources.
In the listings, if the title is hyperlinked, this is to the copy of the text on this site (if there is one yet). Note that while some of the titles may seem to have no obvious postal connection, in a fair number of cases this is only a small part of a longer Act, sometimes one dealing with multiple issues. These tend to be the ones that are merely mentioned instead of the text being supplied! If the link has a after it, only the relevant part(s) of the Act are quoted. Some Acts (mostly relatively recent ones) are listed on the HM Government portal legislation.gov.uk, and links to these are also provided if available.
For an explanation of the referencing conventions for Acts see this short guide.
What counts as a "Post Office connection"?
A good question! A very large number of Acts mention the Post Office or postal matters in some way, but often only as an incidental reference. For example, many Acts relating to public works include mentions of how they relate to various clauses in Post Office Acts. So the general principles for inclusion in the list are:
- Acts with the words "Post Office" in the title of the Act
- Acts that have a clear Post Office connection, such as Telegraph or Savings Bank related Acts
- Acts specifically mentioned in a postal Act as having been repealed by it (in whole or part)
- Any other Act that seems relevant ...
What are generally omitted are:
- Public works Acts as described above (unless for Post Office purposes)
- General public finance Acts such as the annual Appropriations Acts
- General Statute Law Revision Acts that formally repeal superseded Acts and sections
- Acts that amend or repeal small sections of postal Acts
- Acts that a postal Act makes minor amendments to
- Acts that merely refer to the use of the post for some other purpose (such as the sale of National Insurance stamps at post offices)
It is of course entirely possible, and indeed likely, that Acts that should be included have been inadvertently (or deliberately) omitted. So information on and/or suggestions concerning anything we don't have listed here would be very welcome!