20 FEBRUARY 1953, Page 5

The Simplified Spelling Bill jointly sponsored by Mr. Isaac Pitman

and Mr. Mont Follick might be regarded simply as one of Mr. Follick's frolics—the Member for Loughborough is a most amiable man, but the House of Commons has never consented to take him very seriously—but for the fact that the House very nearly gave a second reading to a Bill on much the same lines in the course of the 1945 Parliament. But it is hard to conceive of any such measure getting much farther than that. In such matters as spelling the British people is resolutely conservative—quite right too, in my judgement. We have far too noble a literary heritage for us to break away wantonly from it. Mr. Follick may no doubt make play with recent statistics of illiteracy in the Army and elsewhere, and contend that more people would learn to read if it were easier to learn to read. Possibly. But to read what ? Only literary products presented in the same fantastic spelling as the reader would have learned at school under Mr. Follick's regime? How- ever, never mind that. I predict that people will go on spelling in the old way and reading books written in the old way long after Mr. Follick and his children, if he possesses any (which I think for good reasons is not the case), have passed to a region where etymology and the like may matter less than it does here.