UK Politics

MP Alan Duncan calls for email disclaimer ban

Computer keyboard Image copyright PA

An MP has called for an end to "useless" legal disclaimers at the bottom of emails.

Sir Alan Duncan said the "meaningless missives" led to "forests' worth of paper" being wasted when emails are printed out.

He presented a bill that would ban the practice for public bodies.

Sir Alan told MPs the disclaimers were a hangover from the early days of the internet and could be replaced with a link to an attachment.

"We have all been there," he said.

"A short email comes in from a friend, colleague or company and we hit print and then we look in horror as page after page spews out."

'Heavy heart'

He said the creation of the world wide web by Sir Tim Berners-Lee was "a matter of national pride", but added: "This moment of innovative genius should not be allowed to be tarnished by the very worst of sluggish, bureaucratic verbiage that is represented by the e-mail disclaimer."

He joked that the Labour Party had - "in a marked departure from the norm" - embraced austerity in relation to its 50-word disclaimer, and reported "with a heavy heart" that his own party's version ran to 183 words.

Image caption Sir Alan Duncan criticised the length of email disclaimers sent by public bodies

During his time as International Development Secretary, he said he had reduced his department's disclaimer to 17 words.

His bill, introduced under the 10-minute rule, would ban the practice but in the meantime he urged those with the power to do so to amend long disclaimers voluntarily.

The legislation was accepted at first reading, but it is unlikely to become law in its current form without government support due to a lack of parliamentary time.