Should the Hansard Report be Edited?

Dear Naz Shah,

Recently, in my English classes, the topic of the Hansard report was brought to my attention and how these official documents are apparently ‘edited verbatim’. This description of the reports is quite contradictory as it suggests they are the original and literal accounts, yet are also modified in some way where they are possibly corrupted. Obviously, this makes no sense. So, in light of this information,a debate arose as to whether the Hansard Report should be edited or left in its literal state and, as a result, I have acquired a number of valid points for both sides of the argument. These points are what I would like to present to you in this written exposé as well as an explanation as to why I believe that Hansard should remain in verbatim.

In defense of alterations, any actual differences between the original speech and the report often make no significant changes to the content as a whole. In fact, most changes actually make the reports easier to understand and read in the future such as the removal of pronouns that are only contextually relevant. Any changes to the reports would also be unlikely to corrupt the original meaning as they would be too slight or not significant enough. Therefore, providing most if not all of the key information is recorded without error, the integrity of the report isn’t damaged.

In addition, it is perfectly reasonable to suggest an edit for each account as it would allow for the reports to seem more formal due the exclusion of imperfections such as false starts and fillers. The inclusion of such things may be seen as unprofessional since the reports must be in a state where they can be formally presented at a later date.


However, on the other hand, the use of editing would remove important factors of spoken language such as pauses, fillers and false starts. Although these are imperfections and are certainly aesthetically unprofessional (as stated before), they are essential when attempting to gain an insight as to the manner of which the words were said. Each individual pause, for example, could be vital in deciding whether the speaker was lacking preparation since a long pause would imply a requirement for premeditated thought. All this would mean that, if the Hansard reports were edited, all utterances were spoken confidently and without the need for extended times of contemplating.

Further explaining the point, the Hansard reports do not require editing as its pure form shows the literal and thus most reliable record of events. Simply put, if the reports are changed at all, the reliability could be compromised if only by a small margin.

In conclusion, I think that future Hansard reports should remain unedited since the flaws in spoken language can allow for a lot more information to be deduced. Also, as the accounts are indeed official documents, the unedited versions would be of greater use in courts due to their exactness and complete truth.




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