Quote of the day

From daweaver in the comments to this post by Jennie Rigg

The whole NHS changes kerfuffle reminds me of the Twilight series. It’s badly written, lots of people get very het up and shout over the minutest detail while others wonder what the fuss is about, and there’s a huge wall of impenetrable and badly-written text to read just to make any sensible comment about the whole thing.


I’ve now read through that bloody bill, in full, three times (once when it came out and twice yesterday reading the amended version, flicking back and forth between it and the two acts it’s amending), and whatever one’s thoughts about the changes in the bill itself, it can’t be a good thing when someone like myself (relatively intelligent, I’d like to believe, and definitely reasonably educated and literate) can read through such an important piece of legislation and come away still unsure as to crucial elements.

A lot of the changes in the bill are actually good ones. Some are stupid. But huge chunks of this bill will, as far as I can tell, end up being decided by courts as people argue over what rights and obligations it actually confers. And I can’t say I’m happy about that. We need some way of getting legislation to be human-readable, but I’m not really sure how one would do that. Any ideas?

(Posts about music and Doctor Who will come soon)

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3 Responses to Quote of the day

  1. Great comments on this issue – thanks. Reading the bill 3 times is extremely impressive. I have quoted you http://greenwichlib.wordpress.com/2012/03/11/patients-not-profits-fingers-crossed/

  2. patrickhadfield says:

    Thanks for writing this – because I have been trying to get my head around the implications of the bill and it has been doing my head in. I haven’t tried reading the bill itself, but I have tried reading an awful lot of other publications about it and – well it just doesn’t stick.

    I thought maybe I was just being thick, or lazy.

    On making legislation readable, couldn’t we try just that? Have a summary outlining the intention before the legalese, so that the courts would know what the intention actually was rather than having to interpret it.

    True, no government would write “We intend to break up the NHS…”.

    But if you cannot succintly and simply describe what legislation is trying to accomplish, how can you expect voters to understand what you are trying to achieve?

  3. Tony Harms says:

    There is a school of thought that legislation should be written in broad terms so that courts can apply its principles to actual situation including those not anticipated during drafting.

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