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Wednesday, 8 December, 1999, 06:08 GMT
'Gobbledygook' prize for Prescott and Hoddle
John Prescott Sorry, didn't quite catch that, Mr Prescott

As a politician, John Prescott prides himself on his plain speaking. Others would say he is just a little difficult to understand sometimes.

And the deputy prime minister's particular way with words has been the subject of many a cruel comment.

So he will be disappointed to learn that the government department he runs has done nothing to help him restore his reputation as a master of the language.

The following missive from a department of environment, transport and the regions (DETR) consultation paper has won a goobbledygook award from the Plain English Campaign:

Glenn Hoddle I beg your pardon, Mr Hoddle?
"In the application by virtue of this paragraph of subparagraphs (4) and (6) to (10) of paragraph 3 to an application or proposed variation. (a) The notice served under sub-paragraph (2) of this paragraph shall be treated as the notification required by sub-paragraph (4) (a) of paragraph 3. (b)

"The reference in sub-paragraph (6) of paragraph 3 to the day on which the notification under sub-paragraph (4) (a) of paragraph 3 is made shall be treated as reference to the day on which the notice served under sub-paragraph (2) of this paragraph is given."

Judges for the campaign said: "The department seems to have missed the point of using paragraphs to make things clear."

But at least Mr Prescott is not alone in winning a Golden Bull award at the campaign's 20th ceremony

Former England football manager Glenn Hoddle also picks up a trophy - a Foot in Mouth award - for a "baffling statement" made in response to his controversial comments about the disabled.

I do not believe that. At this moment in time, if that changes in years to come I don't know, but what happens here today and changes as we go along that is part of life's learning and part of your inner beliefs
Glenn Hoddle
He made his comments during an interview with ITN newsreader Sir Trevor McDonald.

Mr Prescott's Cabinet colleague Stephen Byers is another lucky recipient of a Golden Bull award, on behalf of the trade and industry department, for a passage in the Employment Relations Act.

The offending section reads: "A person carrying on employment business shall not request or directly or indirectly receive any fee from a second person for providing services (whether by the provision of information or otherwise) for the purposes of finding or seeking to find a third person, with a view to the second person becoming employed by the first person and acting for and under the control of the third person."

The judges said: "The department seems to have an identity crisis."

stephen byers Stephen Byers: First, second or third person?
But a spokesman for the campaign added: "Our awards to John Prescott and Stephen Byers are very reluctant ones, because both their departments have made strong efforts with plain English."

The awards are being announced by ITN newsreader Dermot Murnaghan at a ceremony in London on Wednesday.

Those rewarded for their use of clear, plain English include NatWest Bank, the London Borough of Camden, the DVLA, the Home Office, The Scotsman newspaper and various BBC television and radio programmes.

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See also:
08 Dec 99 |  UK Politics
Hostile homecoming for Prescott
11 Dec 98 |  UK Politics
Duck scores MP bad English award
10 Dec 97 |  UK
Plain speaking is no joke

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