UK Acts online

I can’t believe in this day and age that OPSI (formerly HMSO) still don’t have
copies of UK acts of parliament before 1988 online. According to their

Q. Why do you only display legislation back to

A. The website was launched in 1996. Initially, legislation was only
available from that year. In 2000 we took the decision to include older
legislation for which we had electronic files. These files only dated
back to 1988. Prior to this, legislation is only available in its
original print format.

I don’t think it’s acceptable to say “Oh it’s a bit of work to make them
available.” If Project Gutenberg
can make 17,000 out of copyright works available, I fail to see why the
government, who have resources at their disposal, can’t make the text of
approximately 3000 acts from the last 100 years available. This makes
several key acts which govern us today unavailable to the UK public,
including the Telecommunications Act 1984, Sale of Goods Act 1979,
Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 and Unfair Contract Terms Act

On a similar note, they have only just started making PDF files
avilable for download (since October 2005). They don’t appear to be
planning on making existing documents available in PDF. Again, I don’t
think it would be too hard to make all their content availble in
alternative formats.

4 thoughts on “UK Acts online

  1. Matthew W. S. Bell
    on said:

    If IIRC, acts of parliament are under Crown Copyright, which allows reproduction for non-commercial purposes. So…we could do it ourselves?

  2. We could do it, but it would involve getting paper copies of the Acts, but I suspect they wouldn’t be free, so someone would need to purchase them. appears to sell copies of the Acts for around 6GBP per act, which could get awfully expensive, rather quickly.

  3. Perhaps you could go to a library, sit there and scan them? It would be a lot of work for one person – perhaps a website which accepts uploads of electronic copies of legislation, which would then need proofing. A lot like Project Gutenberg, in fact.

  4. For comparison:

    The full, consolidated text of most Finnish legislation currently in force, all of the recent legislation in any case, are online at a government-operated website. I believe they’re still missing some old, obscure bits, but I haven’t found any holes in the data.

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