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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 December 2006, 12:04 GMT
Where mince pies break the law...
Father Christmas and reindeer
Might a tardy Father Christmas find himself wearing handcuffs?
If you fancy eating a mince pie in England this Christmas Day, you could find yourself in legal hot water.

But nip across the border into Wales or Scotland, and you can tuck into this festive treat to your heart's content.

It is one of the odd old laws on the statute book, although rarely enforced by even the keenest police officer.

Another says Santa Claus must deliver to English houses by midnight on 25 December - although that at least gives him time for the rest of the world.

The list of "bizarre rules" has been drawn up by Swansea law firm John Collins and Partners.

It is legal for a male to urinate in public, as long it is on the rear wheel of his motor vehicle and his right hand is on the vehicle
A bed may not be hung out of a window
Taxi drivers are required to ask all passengers if they have smallpox or the plague
Any person found breaking a boiled egg at the sharp end will be sentenced to 24 hours in the village stocks (enacted by Edward VI)
Any boy under the age of 10 may not see a naked mannequin
Throughout the whole of England it is illegal to eat mince pies on the 25th of December
It is illegal to be drunk on licensed premises

Managing partner Paul Newman said they wanted to give people a "light-hearted warning about what they could be letting themselves in for during the festive period and into the new year".

Other rules include a bar on "ladies" enjoying chocolate on public transport.

Another says you can shoot a Welsh person all day on a Sunday, with a longbow in the Cathedral Close, Hereford.

It is no more relaxing for the Welsh if they make another expedition just across the English border, to Chester.

There, an ancient law says Welsh people can be shot with a bow and arrow inside the city walls and after midnight.

"We wouldn't expect people to worry too much about most of these laws," said Mr Newman.

Should the Welsh fear to tread in picturesque Hereford?
"Though any Welsh person visiting Hereford or Chester may want to keep their wits about them on Sunday!"

"The Law Commission is responsible for sifting out ageing laws in an attempt to bring the system up to date, but a few bizarre rules have managed to stay in place," Mr Newman added.

Repeal bills are passed by Parliament every few years, each one getting rid of hundreds of pages of law.

The bill in 2003 contained 68 acts and parts of 400 others.

The acts repealed in 2004 included a law from 1888 encouraging emigration to the colonies for unemployed adults and pauper children from the overcrowded cities of England and Wales.


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