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Basic English (Copyright)

Volume 437: debated on Tuesday 6 May 1947

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asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury how many prosecutions have been instituted by the Stationery Office in respect of breaches of the copyright in Basic English purchased by the Government at the cost of £25.000.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the use of the word "copyright" implies the possibility of infringement? Is he further aware that there is no way in which these ordinary English words, such as Basic English is, can be infringed, and is it not misleading to say that this handsome sum was paid for the copyright?

That is so. The word "copyright" has crept into replies, and also into questions on this matter. It is not strictly correct to use the word "copyright" in this connection. Mr. Ogden was not paid for copyright, but for his work in connection with this matter.

Could the right hon. Gentleman say whether this sum of £25,000 is subject to Income Tax or Surtax?

It was £23,000, not £25,000. I imagine that as it was income to Mr. Ogden it was subject to Income Tax, but if the hon. Member would like an assurance on that point, I will certainly find out, and let him know.

Is my right hon. Friend also aware that it is not strictly true to say that Basic English consists only of a list of ordinary English words? It is also a method of using them.