Notwithstanding the source of the clause
CENTURIES of parliamentary tradition will be swept away next week with a new-style Bill offering a "plain English" translation of the usual impenetrable legal language.
The English system of common and case law is blamed for the complexity of legislation. Meanings of words are carefully prescribed in law with particular vocabulary used to convey specific meanings. That makes it hard for those outside the legal profession to grasp the meaning of a Bill.
The arcane language survives because the courts are responsible for interpreting legislation, and it is the language they understand. But, experts say, legislation is increasingly baffling and governments in centuries past produced clear and concise Bills. Several Victorian laws were shining examples of plain English. The 1861 Offences Against the Persons Act, for example, states: “It is an offence to cause a riot.”
Bad habits crept in during the 20th century. Oliver Heald, a barrister and the Conservatives’ constitutional affairs spokesman, said that Harold Wilson was the worst offender, famous for “massive tomes” of regulatory legislation.
Tony Blair’s predilection for sweeping “framework” Bills, which can be easily topped up with secondary legislation, has added to the complexity.
The Campaign for Plain English called it a “great step forward”.
Lawyers, who make a living out of explaining complex legislation, could be the big losers.
I came to mock but the more I read I think that unbelievably for once Ms Harman may have done something good. It is not ripping up our common heritage but rather a small attempt to return to our glorious past where the common man could understand the Law and Bible in the common tongue - a principle many have fought the executive for over the years.