§ 45. Mr. A. Edwards
asked the Prime Minister whether he will take steps to have all Acts of Parliament written in basic English?
§ Mr. Edwards
Does not the Prime Minister think that it would be a great economy of the time of the House if, after the official draftsmen had done their best —or worst—with these Bills, they were translated into more understandable English; and will he contemplate the calamity that might befall us if these draftsmen some day took his own speeches and translated them into official language.
§ The Prime Minister
Well, there is a great deal of official jargon, but it has not been arrived at with a view to causing inconvenience, but because those who are entrusted with expressing the decisions of the House in statutory form have found that to be the most convenient and precise method. With regard to the idea that we should try to describe everything in basic English, that is very sensible, and I may draw the hon. Member's attention to the fact that the word "basic" and its neighbour the word "basal" are both under very great suspicion at present in 1708 the way in which they are used. I see that Mr. Fowler's Dictionary of Modern English Usage, which everyone should study, says:These un-English looking adjectives, neither of which existed before the 19th century, were manufactured merely as adjuncts to certain technical uses of the noun 'base' in botany, chemistry and architecture where the word 'fundamental' would have been misleading.
§ Mr. Edwards
While I thank the Prime Minister for taking so much trouble over this matter, does he not think that, in spite of all that he has said, some improvement could be made?
§ Commander Locker-Lampson
Would the hon. Member himself start by making his speeches in basic English?