In the United Kingdom, examples of statutory provisions which do not contain the sort of content which would normally be regarded as legally cognizable norms are multiplying. The phenomenon of ‘non-law-bearing’ statutory provisions challenges the notion of legislation and endangers the psychological influence on which the success of legislation usually depends. The article surveys a number of types of ‘non-law-bearing’ statutory provisions, particularly those it labels promissory, declaratory, aspirational, and politically rhetorical. It argues that such provisions are justifiable when they articulate matters which are constitutionally too important to be put in the transient form of normal legislation, but that their use in other circumstances risks demeaning Acts of Parliament.

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