Plain English Campaign are celebrating an Easter bonus with the launch of not just one inquiry into government communications, but a second which will look into how Parliament connects with the public.
The first public inquiry, by the Public Administration Select Committee, is calling for examples of good and bad government documents, while the House of Lords Information Committee are continuing their Modernisation Report into improving how Parliament connects with the public.
Marie Clair, spokesperson for Plain English Campaign, says, “People are crying out for information that they can read, understand and act upon, within a single reading. These desperate times are revealing the extent of poor communications in every part of our society. These inquiries are a two-way process. Send us your examples and opinions on both inquiries. This is an opportunity for people to show why the elderly can’t claim the heating benefits they rightly deserve, why families are losing their homes because of jargon-filled credit agreements and why, with over 2 million unemployed, employers are struggling to find applicants with basic literacy skills.”
Chrissie Maher, founder of Plain English Campaign, has splashed out on Easter eggs for all the Campaign staff in celebration of the Parliamentary landmark.
Chrissie says, “The Campaign has been on the case of both Parliament and Government from the start. Education and legislation in plain English are what we need to encourage the use of crystal-clear language in all public information, both written and spoken. It’s down to each of us to be clear and honest. In 2009 I want to see our 646 MPs reminded that plain English is what their public needs. And, every young person has the right to learn about the damage of unnecessary jargon and gobbledygook, before the rot of poor communication sets in for another generation.”
Public Administration Select Committee calls for people to send in examples of the good, the bad and the ugly of official language
Download the House of Commons Select Committee on Modernisation’s report, Connecting Parliament with the Public published in 2004 from the parliamentary stationery office (PDF, 410Kb).
The House of Lords Information Committee's Call For Evidence. This committee has also launched a web forum and a Youtube group.
Comments from Chrissie Maher, founder of the Plain English Campaign.
The rest of the world sit up and take notice
After 30 years I never thought I’d see the day when both the House of Commons and the House of Lords are concerned about plain English!
When I stood on Parliament Square with a hand shredder, surrounded by empty cardboard boxes and many policemen, I feared that I could only end up in jail for protesting at government jargon in public information. I would never have dreamed that one day, just one day, people at the top would listen to the humble grass roots. For a mother of four it wasn’t right to have to plough through their maze of words to get action.
It only goes to show that if you honestly persist and you know in your heart what you’re asking for is right, then people in high places will listen. I’m only sorry it’s taken a lifetime, my lifetime. Well, they say that the wheels of government move slowly, but they get there in the end.. phew!
Note to all Editors: it would be helpful if you could advise listeners, viewers or readers that we welcome nominations for Plain English Awards or Golden Bulls. Please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Plain English Campaign is an independent, self-funding pressure group based in New Mills, High Peak. Since our humble beginnings we have grown to become the biggest plain-language group in the world with around 50 staff. We have had incredible success in persuading many UK and worldwide organisations to communicate with the public in plain language.
We take up grievances of people who have been baffled by bureaucratic language, small print and the legalese of official information. We promote plain language by presenting awards, hosting international conferences and funding research projects.
Each year, we present awards to those organisations who we judge to have produced the best and worst examples of English. The infamous ‘Golden Bull’ and ‘Foot in Mouth’ awards inject a sense of mischief and humour into the proceedings. We accept entries from any individual or organisation. However, for obvious reasons we cannot give awards to documents or websites that our staff have worked on or edited.
We fund our activities by offering a variety of commercial services such as training and editing.
For more information please contact email@example.com or call our Press Officer, Marie Clair on 07875 000175 or 01298 815118. Our studio ISDN line number is 01298 812326. Our postal address is Press Office, Hillside Farm, Combs, High Peak SK23 9UT.