Plain English Campaign supporters were ‘angered and dismayed’ by an answer at Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday. Susan Kramer, MP for Richmond Park, asked Gordon Brown to withdraw the Heathrow expansion consultation document. Her call came as a result of it being declared ‘atrocious’ by Chrissie Maher, the founder of Plain English Campaign.
The Prime Minister responded, saying that “the consultation is there for the public to involve themselves in” and “I hope people will vigorously join the consultation”.
“This is a totally patronising response,” said Campaign spokesman Steve Jenner. “The Prime Minister just seemed to ignore the issue raised. The consultation document may be ‘there for the public to involve themselves in’ but that just isn’t good enough. Any old rubbish can be ‘there’. And that’s what this document is. Anyone who thinks this is a suitable document for public consultation is holding the public in contempt."
“How can ‘people vigorously join the consultation’ when the document looks as if it has been designed to exclude people from participating?"
“It should be possible to read, understand and act on a consultation document after one reading. I would challenge anyone to do that with this particular document. Irrespective of the rights or wrongs of the Heathrow expansion plans, consultation carried out in this way is just undemocratic."
“Once again we would urge a re – think; this document is not fit for the purpose for which it was intended. We ask the government to withdraw this document and offer a genuine consultation to interested parties.”