The court used Trollpe's Autobiography
to assist in the construction of 1834 and 1859 statutes relating to
civil service superannuation schemes.
The court held that it was entitled to employ
reliable contemporary observations on the implementation of statute
law in particular Trollope's Autobiography of 1883.
Before we leave this topic, be
aware that The Law Commission in 1967 and the Renton
Committee in 1973 made suggestions for the reform of statutory
The Law Commission
suggested that more liberal use should be made of the internal and
external aids; and in the event of ambiguity, the construction which
best promoted the ‘legislative purpose’ should be adopted - i.e.
they favoured the purposive approach.
The Renton Committee suggested that there should be a move
towards including less detail in the legislation, and moving towards
a more European way of drafting; in itself this would lead to
The Committee further suggested that more use could be made in
statutes of examples showing the courts how an Act was intended to
work in particular situations; that long, un-paragraphed sentences
should be avoided - something that the
Plain English Campaign
has been after for some time; that
statutes should be arranged to suit the convenience of the ultimate
users; and that there should be more consolidation of statutes.
In Padfield v Minister
of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food  Lord Reid said:
"Parliament must have
conferred the discretion with the intention that it should be used
to promote the policy and objects of the Act; the policy and
objects of the Act must be determined by construing the Act as a
whole and construction is always a matter of law for the court. In
a matter of this kind it is not possible to draw a hard and fast
line, but if the Minister, by reason of his having misconstrued
the Act or for any other reason, so uses his discretion as to
thwart or run counter to the policy and objects of the Act, then
our law would be very defective if persons aggrieved were not
entitled to the protection of the court. So it is necessary first
to construe the Act."
On the other hand the literal
rule was criticised by the Law Commission (1969) on the ground that:
have tended excessively to emphasise the literal meaning of
statutory provisions without giving due weight to their meaning in
undue emphasis on the literal meaning of the words is to assume an
unattainable perfection in draftsmanship.
the limitations of language".
Of the golden rule
The Law Commission (1969)
provided no clear means to test the existence of the
characteristics of absurdity, inconsistency or inconvenience, or
to measure their quality or extent.
seemed that "absurdity" was in practice judged by reference to
whether a particular interpretation was irreconcilable with the
general policy of the legislature
"the golden rule turns out to be a less explicit form of the
The Law Commission (1969)
emphasised the importance in interpretation of a provision of the
general legislative purpose underlying it. The Renton Committee
on the Preparation of Legislation (1975) approved this.