HC Deb 01 March 1962 vol 654 cc1518-9
24. Sir Richard Pilkington

asked the Minister of Education what consideration was given at the recent Commonwealth Education Conference at Delhi to a gradual reform of English spelling.

Sir D. Eccles

The Conference stessed the importance of English as a means of Commonwealth and world communication, but there was no suggestion that its development was hindered by spelling.

Sir Richard Pilkington

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that it would be the biggest boost to the English language if spelling were simplified? In view of the fact that the Government are taking the initiative in so many different things these days, will he not do so in this matter?

Sir D. Eccles

I must tell my hon. Friend that I have a certain prejudice in favour of English as she is spelled now.

Sir J. Pitman

Does not the Minister agree, without prejudice to that prejudice, (that the advantage of the alphabet lies only in the learning process, and if it is discovered in this country that the learning process is fostered by developing the alphabet alphabetic ally, as it were, would it not be a good thing to use it also for the process of learning the English language, having regard to the fact that "on" spells "on," that "ce" spells "ki", or "see" but that o-n-c-e spells neither "onke" nor "onsee" but "wuns"? Pity the poor foreigner!

Sir D. Eccles

My hon. Friend's interest in this matter is well-known and appreciated. He has initiated some experiments to which he knows I have given my support.

Dr. King

In spite of the Minister's prejudices, many of which we on this side know very well, will he devote his very careful attention, as he has just suggested he might, to the experiments which have been conducted by the University of London into the teaching of spelling by means of a reformed alphabet?

Sir D. Eccles

Yes, I will.

Mr. Peyton

I welcome my right hon. Friend's prejudice in favour of English as she is spoken and spelled now. Will he do his best to spread and communicate this prejudice throughout Whitehall?

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