Die in Parliament and you’re under arrest

Queen Elizabeth II’s speech in the British Parliament on Tuesday may have been routine, but at least nobody was bored to death. That would have been against the law.

Dying in Parliament is an offence — and by far the most absurd law in Britain, according to a survey of nearly 4 000 people by a television channel showing a legal drama series.

And though the lords were clad in their red and white ermine cloaks and ambassadors from around the world wore colourful national costumes, at least nobody turned up in a suit of armour — which is illegal.

Other rules deemed utterly stupid include one that permits a pregnant woman to urinate in a policeman’s hat, and murdering bow-and-arrow-carrying Scotsmen within the city walls of York, northern England.

A law stating that in Liverpool, only a clerk in a tropical-fish store is allowed to be publicly topless, was also ridiculous, said a poll of 3 931 people for UKTV Gold television out on Tuesday.

Nearly half of those surveyed admitted to breaking the ban on eating mince pies on Christmas Day, which dates back to the 17th century and was originally designed to outlaw gluttony during the rule of the Puritan Oliver Cromwell.

The laws and other regulations were culled from published research into ancient legislation that has never been repealed although subsequent statutes have rendered them obsolete.

Respondents were given a shortlist and asked to vote.

Most ridiculous British laws

1. It is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament (27%).

2. It is an act of treason to place a postage stamp bearing the British monarch upside-down (7%).

3. In Liverpool, it is illegal for a woman to be topless except as a clerk in a tropical-fish store (6%).

4. Mince pies cannot be eaten on Christmas Day (5%).

5. In Scotland, if someone knocks on your door and requires the use of your toilet, you must let them enter (4%).

6. A pregnant woman can legally relieve herself anywhere she wants, including in a policeman’s helmet (4%).

7. The head of any dead whale found on the British coast automatically becomes the property of the king, and the tail of the queen (3,5%).

8. It is illegal to avoid telling the tax man anything you do not want him to know, but legal not to tell him information you do not mind him knowing (3%).

9. It is illegal to enter the Houses of Parliament in a suit of armour (3%).

10. In the city of York it is legal to murder a Scotsman within the ancient city walls, but only if he is carrying a bow and arrow (2%).

Keep the powerful accountable

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