Should Hansard be edited?

Dear Naz Shah,

The topic of  Hansard was brought up in my English language and literature lesson as we were evaluating and analysing transcripts.  The Hansard that we studied was Russell Brand giving evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee as part of its enquiry into  the drugs policy.  In this lesson I learnt how the record was “edited verbatim” ; furthermore there was a debate to whereas  Hansard should be edited or left in verbatim.  I will be pointing out some of the great points that were made in this debate, and why I think that you should leave Hansard as it is.

Firstly, I understand  why Hansard has been edited as there are  spoken language features which have been made which are not necessary such as the fillers and elisions. hansard




In addition to this,  in parliament could have been made such as false starts where the person has genuinely made a mistakes  as they have made an error of what they are wanting to say  which the reader does not really need to know about as it is irrelevant and in such a vital document minor non standard english doesn’t  really need to be noted down. I also agree with editing wrong facts out e.g. if in the court someone says the wrong date subconsciously then it is not vital for the reader to know that as the correct fact will be put in also it will not change the meaning of the document and not make a huge difference.

Similarly, Hansard makes changes where there is lack of readability which is understandable as it makes it much easier for the reader to comprehend rather than being confused which is unacceptable as this is a vital document which should not conatain non standard english.  This is tolerable as this does not adjust the document or change the meaning, it is only adjusting mistakes which may have been made by the speaker by accident.

Hansard is a vital document that needs to be corrected however it is only acceptable that the vital document is edited to some extent as this can give MPs and Society a false interpretation of what actually happened in the discussion and can lead to some judgements being wrong  due to certain words or pauses being edited out or added in.

Nevertheless,  by editing the verbatim record and adding to it could jeopardise the court as it is a false interpretation of what happened. People could find out that certain words which can have a big impact on the case have been edited out which can cause protests . I watched the case of Russel Brand and read Hansard  along with it. I realised that there were certain things that had been edited out of the Hansard which were in the video itself  that would have  change my mind if I read it like that. For example, pauses and fillers were not noted, the fillers changed my mind as it shows the speaker is lacking confidence however as this was not noted on the transcript it seemed to me that the speaker was confident when they were actually not. The transcript should be a record of what was being said in the court and not a polished written paper on the subject.

Corresponding with this, whilst I was watching the video there were pauses and fillers and false starts which to me are very vital and should be left in verbatim. When I saw the Hansard I noticed that these pauses and fillers were not noted down. Pauses and fillers show lack of confidence and show readers if the speech was rehearsed or not. If in the Hansard fillers are edited out then it will show the reader that the speaker is confident and is ready to get their point across; whereas in reality this may not be the case so it is essential fillers, pauses and false starts stay in verbatim as they show hesitation, uncertainty and a truer image of what occurred ;  and how the reader was speaking which is important as through the speakers words we can tell how they are feeling.

To conclude,  I would consider that Hansard is left in verbatim unedited as it gives readers a true view of what actually happened in the dicussion rather than painting a false image of what happened. There is nothing better than an unedited verbataim as everything that has been said in the court has been written down. How can we rely on Hansard if it is being edited ?. It is the job of parliament to make sure that the transcript is a true version of what was being said in court, it is not the job of parliament to polish the subject.




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