Plain English Campaign went to the House of Commons on Monday 17 November to voice our support for Nick Palmer’s Small Print Bill.
If the bill becomes law, it will mean that there is a minimum size for the print used in:
• terms and conditions;
• advertisements; and
• contracts to supply goods and services.
We held our event in the Jubilee Room and only had half an hour to unload four huge boxes of equipment and set it up before Matthew Parris was to deliver his opening speech. Everything worked like clockwork and, by some miracle, we were ready in time.
Peter Rodney viewing our exhibition
Peter Rodney, our plain English barrister, who writes legislation for the Government of Gibraltar, opened the event. He introduced the speakers, TV presenter Matthew Parris and journalist Nicholas Jones.
Matthew gave a penetrating insight into how small print can confuse and mislead people. He gave many examples from the worlds of politics and industry, and the listeners were enthralled. Nick followed with his own outlook how politicians, lawyers, the media and many others use 'spin'.
We invited the audience to ask questions and they came thick and fast. Peter, Matthew and Nicholas answered the questions with honesty and passion and the answers led to more and more questions. One question was 'Why isn’t the Government supporting this bill?' Perhaps we should ask the Government on behalf of the schoolgirl who asked the question.
She was one of 20 children representing the Liverpool Schools’ Parliament. In the break we showed them the exhibition displaying Plain English Campaign's story in pictures. We showed them its roots in the poverty and deprivation of wartime Liverpool through to the worldwide impact we have today. It was a dramatic display of how someone with enough determination, like our director Chrissie Maher, can overcome the worst of circumstances to become a power for good.
One of our trainers, Jeanette Mercer (pictured above with our Press Officer Marie Clair), brought a memorable afternoon to a light-hearted end by giving hilarious examples of how some organisations use tortuous language to describe the simplest of ideas.
The Small Print Bill on the United Kingdom Parliament website