London, October 13: In the midst of economic crisis, Tory minister Owen Paterson has made himself laughing stock due on the use of grammar.
The 56-year-old new Food Secretary has issued a strict guide detailing exactly how staff should draw up his paperwork including the proper use of semicolons.
Privately educated Mr Paterson is accused of losing sight of the big picture after instructing Whitehall mandarins never to start a sentence with “and” or “but” – and insisting neither word must appear next to a comma.
They are also told to “maximise the use of semicolons to link related clauses” and “there should be a verb either side of the semicolon”.
In the document, revealed under freedom of information laws, staff members have been ordered to avoid dashes, limit colons to lists and “minimise the use of brackets”.
“You will only ever get away with one set of brackets in a sentence,” the Mirror quoted the warning as saying.
Paterson, who studied at 30,000 pounds-a-year Radley College and Cambridge, produced his nit-picking charter after David Cameron promoted him in last month’s Cabinet reshuffle following the sacking of Caroline Spelman.
However, Shadow Food Secretary Mary Creagh claims Paterson needs to sort out more important issues.
“Instead of obsessing over every dot and comma he should be getting a grip on his department,” Creagh said.
“His failure to look at the bigger picture just goes to show how out of touch this Government is with the problems ordinary people are facing,” she added. (ANI)