Tory MP Sir Alan Duncan has begged Parliament to bring in a bill banning the reams of legal blurb at the bottom of emails in order to save precious Whitehall ink when, er, printing out one-line emails.
"We have all been there. A short email comes in from a friend, colleague or company and we hit print. Then we look in horror as page after page spews out," he told fellow MPs.
"The email itself is not the end,” he continued before vainly trying to invoke Churchill*: “It is often not even the beginning of the end – merely the end of the beginning."
Duncan's bill would ban open text e-mail disclaimers from the electronic communications of all UK government departments, agencies and councils and all UK limited companies, he said.
"Enough is enough, Mr Speaker. Never again do we want email chains that say in one line 'Fancy lunch, mate?' and then immediately the one line is followed by 20 undeletable lines of legal officiousness."
Unfortunately it's not just Whitehall that is guilty of such excessive wording.
"I confess that my own party, which has demonstrated such admirable restraint with the public finances over the past five years, cannot replicate this self-control in its own 183-word disclaimer,” a despondent Duncan intoned. “As the Prime Minister has said in this House, there is still much more to be done, and, I would add, much less to be printed."
Duncan said this "sluggish, bureaucratic verbiage" risks "tarnishing national pride that it was a British computer scientist who invented the World Wide Web."
He said: "It is high time, therefore, that we put a stop to these meaningless missives that clog up our inboxes, deplete our printer cartridges of precious ink and cut down forests’ worth of paper. The footer and the header can survive, but let us now condemn the needless disclaimer to the dustbin of internet history. I commend the bill to the House.”
The Internet Communications (Regulation) Bill will have its second reading on Friday 6 March and, by order of Parliament, will then be printed... ®
* Churchill aficionados will recognise the line as being from a speech delivered by the wartime prime minister after the Second Battle of El Alamein in 1942, which marked a turning point in the Allies' struggle against Nazi Germany. The full speech is available online here. Don't print it, hear?