27 March 2009
MIND YOUR LANGUAGE
Public Administration Select Committee calling for people to send in examples of the good, the bad and the ugly of official language
The House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) is currently exploring how government uses-and misuses-language.
How you can help:
Have you received a letter from government or seen an official leaflet that struck you as a really bad-or really good-example of official language? Perhaps the language used was confusing, riddled with jargon or simply meaningless gobbledegook. Or perhaps it got the message across clearly and effectively to the target audience.
We’d like you to send in your examples of official language, and we’re looking for two different kinds of example.
First, we are looking at how well government bodies communicate with people in day-to-day life. Examples might come from information you’ve received about paying your taxes or in the course of accessing health care or other public services, from a letter about a planning application or from an official leaflet you’ve picked up or found online.
Second, we are also examining how government communicates more generally-including how people within government communicate with each other, and with the wider world. You might have examples of language from government reports, job advertisements, consultations, government websites or other documents.
We’re looking at official language in the widest sense, so examples might come from government departments, local government, public bodies, the NHS, educational establishments or other parts of the public sector.
How we will use what you send us:
We will look at all of the examples we receive, but we cannot use them all. We will select the most striking examples to help spark a debate about how government uses language. We aim to hold one or more public hearings with witnesses we will choose.
We will probably want to publish some of the examples. If we do so, we will endeavour to remove any personal information and keep any personal details strictly confidential. If you have any concerns about confidentiality, please make us aware of this when you send your examples in.
What not to send us:
We are unable to follow up individual cases. Please do not send us examples on which you want us to take any kind of action, beyond what we have set out above.
Please do not send us examples which contain personal information about other people.
Please do not send us more than two or three examples.
Please do not send us long examples, or e-mail attachments larger than 1 megabyte.
How you can contact us:
Please email your examples to:
email@example.com . If the example is on the internet, please just send us a hyperlink. If you do not have email access, please post examples to: Public Administration Select Committee, Committee Office, First Floor, 7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA.
It would be helpful if you could send in specific examples, ideally of no more than 500 words, and if you could highlight the parts that you would particularly like to draw to our attention. Please include your name and contact details and the source for your example (such as a web address or the title of the document it comes from). We need to be able to check that the examples we receive are genuine.
We will probably not be able to consider examples that we receive after
Thursday, 30 April 2009.
For more information about the work of the Committee, visit our website at:
Committee Membership: Tony Wright (Chairman) (Lab) (Cannock Chase), Mr David Burrowes (Con) (Enfield, Southgate), Paul Flynn (Lab) (Newport West), David Heyes (Lab) (Ashton under Lyne), Kelvin Hopkins (Lab) (Luton North), Mr Ian Liddell-Grainger (Con) (Bridgewater), Julie Morgan (Lab) (Cardiff North), Mr Gordon Prentice (Lab) (Pendle), Paul Rowen (Lib Dem) (Rochdale), Charles Walker (Con) (Broxbourne), Jenny Willott (Lib Dem) (Cardiff Central)
Media Enquiries: Jessica Bridges-Palmer, 020 7219 0724,
Specific Committee Information: Email:
firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 020 7219 3284
Watch committees and parliamentary debates online:
Publications / Reports / Reference Material: Copies of all select committee reports are available from the Parliamentary Bookshop (12 Bridge St, Westminster, 020 7219 3890) or the Stationery Office (0845 7023474). Committee reports, press releases, evidence transcripts, Bills; research papers, a directory of MPs, plus Hansard (from 8am daily) and much more, can be found on