Questions in spoken language

Spoken language is usually seen as being more interactive than written language. As speakers, we address each other directly (Hey guys), indicate our attention to each other (Mmm), and respond to each others’ comments (Really?, You didn’t!). These are all examples of interactive features.

Another interactive feature associated with spoken language is question–answer sequences. In this investigation we will explore this feature, using data from ICE-GB (our corpus, or database of real language).

In ICE-GB we can do an automatic search for interrogative clauses, a type of clause typically used to ask questions. Interrogative clauses have particular grammatical features involving a special word order (Subject-verb inversion) and/or the presence of a question word such as who, what, where. Here are a couple of examples from the corpus:

  • Can you see that [S1A-087 #183]
  • When did you get married [S1A-056 #230]

Note that we don’t see the expected question marks in these examples, as final punctuation is not used for spoken language units in the corpus.

Spoken vs. written English

The points above give us a starting point for our investigations. We know that interrogative clauses are typically used to ask questions, and that interactive features like questions are typically associated with spoken language. This might lead us to ask the following question:

  • Are interrogative clauses more frequent in spoken than in written English?

Or, instead of wording this as a question, we can word it as a hypothesis, an idea which is to be tested against the data:

  • Interrogative clauses are more frequent in spoken than in written English.

Spoken vs. written: Step 1

Step 1. To test our hypothesis, we start by looking for main clauses which are interrogative in ICE-GB. Our search finds the following:

  interrogative main clauses
Spoken: 4,992
Written: 730
Total: 5,722

This result seems to show a very striking difference. It looks as though there are around seven times as many interrogative clauses in the spoken material as in the written. But is it correct to compare the numbers directly in this way?

There are a couple of reasons why this is not a fair comparison:  

  • The amounts of spoken and written material in the corpus are not the same (about 60% is spoken and 40% written).
  • Main clauses in speech tend to be shorter than those in writing. This means that there are likely to be more main clauses per thousand words in spoken transcripts than in written text – so there are more opportunities to use an interrogative main clause in speech.

To do a proper comparison, we need to:

  • find out the total number of main clauses in the spoken and written material, and then
  • work out what proportion of these are interrogative.

Spoken vs. written: Step 2

Step 2. We search for all main clauses in ICE-GB, and add these figures to our table:

  interrogatives main clauses
Spoken: 4,992 45,334
Written: 730 23,722
Total: 5,722 69,056

Spoken vs. written: Step 3

Step 3. We divide the number of interrogative main clauses by the total number of main clauses to find out what percentage of main clauses are interrogative.

  interrogatives main clauses %
Spoken: 4,992 45,334 11%
Written: 730 23,722 3%
Total: 5,722 69,056 8%

Spoken vs. written: discussion

  • Our results show that 11% of clauses are interrogative in the spoken material compared to 3% in the written material. This is nearly four times as many – instead of seven times as many, as it appeared at Step 1.
  • This is still a striking difference. Now that we have made a proper comparison, we can confidently state that the ICE-GB data supports our original hypothesis (that interrogative clauses are more frequent in spoken than in written English).
  • If we wanted to be even more scientific, we might perform a statistical test, but we have a lot of data so we can be quite confident in its reliability.

Dialogue vs. monologue

We can take our investigation further by comparing different types of spoken data. There are two main groupings of spoken genres in ICE-GB: dialogue and monologue. (We leave aside a smaller category of ‘mixed’ type.)

  • The dialogue material includes genres such as private conversations, business transactions and parliamentary debates.
  • The monologues include genres such as speeches (scripted and unscripted), sports commentaries and teaching demonstrations.

Which of the two groupings, dialogue or monologue, do you think will have the highest frequency of interrogatives? Write down your idea now in the form of a hypothesis.

If we follow the three steps we used for written vs. spoken data, we obtain the following table (with the smaller ‘mixed’ spoken category removed from the total).

  interrogatives main clauses %
Dialogue: 4,635 30,337 15%
Monologue: 290 12,541 2%
Total: 4,925 42,878 11%
  • The percentage of interrogatives is very much higher in the dialogue material than in the monologues. Does this support your hypothesis?
  • The figure for monologues (2%) is even lower than that for the written material we looked at earlier (3%). Do you find this surprising? Do we need to reconsider claims that spoken language is more interactive than written language?

Comparing dialogue genres

Let’s look more closely at the different genres of dialogue in ICE-GB. There are eight genres:

  • private conversations
  • telephone calls
  • broadcast discussions (on TV or radio)
  • broadcast interviews (on TV or radio)
  • business transactions
  • classroom lessons (mainly university seminars)
  • legal cross-examinations
  • parliamentary debates

Which genre do you think will have the highest proportion of interrogative clauses? And which the lowest? Write down your ideas as hypotheses now.

The table below shows what we find in ICE-GB (with the category names abbreviated). You may need to scroll down to see the full results for the eight categories and the total.

Results for dialogue genres

  interrogatives main clauses %
Conversations: 2,590 17,317 15%
Telephone: 280 2,043 14%
Discussions: 304 2,631 12%
Interviews: 180 1,570 11%
Business: 246 1,594 15%
Classroom: 538 2,894 19%
Legal x-exam: 329 1,555 21%
Parliament: 168 733 23%
All dialogue: 4,635 30,337 15%

Review of findings

The percentages of interrogatives vary considerably among these genres.

  • Which have the highest and lowest percentages of interrogatives? Do the findings agree with your predictions?
  • What possible explanations might there be for these patterns? How might you go about testing them?

Looking at a spoken extract

One way to investigate further is to look in detail at particular extracts. Individual extracts themselves vary in the frequency of interrogatives, so we could choose some with especially high frequencies.

In the extract below, 46% of the main clauses are interrogatives. It is taken from a classroom lesson at a university. Here are some points to help you understand the layout of the extract:

  • There are three speakers: A  is the lecturer, and B and C are students. Their contributions are highlighted in different colours (B in blue and C in green).
  • Smaller sections of highlighting inside square brackets indicate overlapping (i.e. stretches where speakers are talking at the same time).
  • The interrogative main clauses are in a pink font, so you can find them easily.
  • The markers (.) and (1) indicate shorter and longer pauses, and question marks indicate unclear speech.

Classroom lesson extract


so you ’re making a distinction between an executive summary within the executive report (.) is that right (.)OKSo within the executive summary you ’re going to make a pithy comment about or synopsis of the (.) economic viability of the project (.)and you ’re also going to put the project in relation to existing (.) demands for this particular uhm material


OK (1)So having established that part of the (.) design then what are you going to doWhat are you going to do after you ’ve introduced the summary (1)What else [?] do you think needs to come out of the work that you ’ve done on the design (.) that it ’s important to note (1)

Things like timescale (.) or (.)

Well you ’ve got your costing (.) -?.?-

Strikes me you ’re putting all the emphasis at the moment on the costingI think there are some other things that came out of the design that uh were also important to note (.)

Special features (1)

By which you mean

How easy it is to get the equipment

RightWell the flow sheet with the equipment on it is just going to be uhm essentially a statement of what you require isn’t it (.)But I suppose what I ’m trying to get at is just as with the economic analysis you said (.)this is the world marketand this is where we fit in (.)uhm (.) you ought to be (.) identifying if there are any particular problems associated with the equipment or any particular technical (.) aspects associated with the equipment (1)So for example when you ’ve been looking at the design of your process are there any uhm (1) features of the equipment that you ’ve had to pay particular attention to (1)Are there any particular (.) issues associated with the production of penicillin which you know perhaps make it different from other processesWhat sort of things have you had to think about very hard in the design process (1)Can anybody give me some ideas as to what those (.) features might be (1)I think what you need is some sort of list of what these features are in fact (1)Anybody going to get the ball rolling (1)

The fermentor

OK but what about the fermentorIs there anything particularly distinctive about that fermentor (1)

Well it ’s the one equipment that we designed I mean to detailed design and uh

OK but why did you design the fermentor (1)

It ’s the core of the process isn’t it -?.?- (1)

Yeah (laugh)

OKWell that

That needs to be specified more than any other piece of equipment


As you say it ’s right at the heart of the process isn’t it (.)OK (.)Isn’t it true to say that if you get the design of the fermentor wrong (.) the costing wrong then the rest of the process is a little bit academic isn’t it



Yeah (.)OKSo you would actually say I would have thought within your executive summary something to the effect that (.) the detailed design work you ’ve done has been focused on uh sorry the key element of the process (.) which is the fermentor (1)Now what about you JohnThere are some particular details of that fermentor design which are (.) important (1)So (.) taking those points is there anything within the penicillin process that you had to think about particularly carefully or that you ’ve actually put quite a lot of thought into (.) in terms of the design of the fermentor (1)

It ’s

Right (.)OKSo one first off is the influence of the organism type on the fermentor designYeahGood (1)Can you think of any other categories which come out from thatThere are some other properties of the organism aren’t thereWhat about (.) the rheology of the brothDoes that make a difference to the way in which the fermentor is designed and operated (1)You ’re nodding your head (.) Victorwhat particular problems does the fermentation broth (.) pose

I think relatively high power requirement (1) cos of the [?...?]

Right (.)OKSo what I ’d be looking for then in that section would be for you to pick out those details that you think are (1) peculiar or particularly important to the design of the penicillin process (.) features which mean that you couldn’t have just gone and bought a bog standard (.) fermentor off the shelf from somewhere else and just expected it to work (1)OK (.)But at the same time are there other things that you need to put in the executive summary -?- related to (.) errors which have still got question marks over them (1)I mean are there still some problem areas I mean on the design (1) apart from the entirety of the thing (1)

Can’t think of anything offhand (.)

Surely if you went back over the design now and looked for the number of times you used the word assume (.) it ’d be those assumptions which would be the things that you ’d need to pick out in your executive summary because clearly where you ’re making an assumption (1) you know there are question marks aren’t thereYou ’re having to make certain (.) uhm (1) guesses or estimates of the properties of the fluid or (.) making estimates as to the way in which the process is going to performSo are there any particular areas which you know have got more guesses in than in other areas (1)


The recovery process (.)

Mhm (.)YeahBut that ’s a pretty big term isn’t itI mean two thirds of the process is recoveryAre there anyCould you be a bit more specific than thatCould you home in on


Polishing stage and uh -?- broth extractions

OK (1)So you could again then identify that there are particular elements of the downstream process where (.) you had presumably insufficient design data on which to base your design (.)and you could go further than that and perhaps make some recommendations that those would be the particular areas that you ’d require to invest some more research and development in it to actually tighten up on the calculations in those areas (1)Uh I think that ’s quite an important point isn’t it that maybe when you come up with these areas where there are question marks and you ’ve made key assumptions that (.) you need to try and relate those assumptions and the errors in those areas back to the economic sensitivity analysisSo for example you could say (1)if the downstream processing calculations are in error by a certain amount then we can accommodate those sorts of inaccuracies because our sensitivity analysis has shown that the project is in fact viable with plus or minus ten per cent or plus or minus twenty per cent (.) error (1)Why do you think it ’s important to try and (.) tie those two together (1)Or do you think it ’s important to tie the two together

That ’s the meaning of the sensitivity


in relation to (1) [?] (.)And also like cost estimation (1)It ’s not a completely (1) [?] calculation

YeahYeahit ’s not an accurate thingYou ’re dealing with a feasibility study which is plus or minus thirty per cent (.) at best perhaps even -?- plus or minus three hundred per cent -?.?-Uhm (1) but you ’ve got to try and show that the bits where you ’re plus or minus three hundred per cent are not critical to the overall success of the project (.)Is that right


OK (1)What about aspects of the uh (.) plant layout or the way in which the actual process is going to runAre there any key details that need to come out of that that you need to report in your executive summary (1)SorryToxicWell where does toxicity come from

YeahRightOKSo I think within the executive summary you ought to be making a statement about the way in which you approach the designWhat ’s the design philosophy in terms of the layout (.)You know you ’ve made a distinction between flameproof areas and non-flameproof areas and you need to justify that as wellYou need to explain why you ’ve done thatWhat are the advantages (.) of dividing the area like that (1)Does the production of penicillin impose any particular constraints on the sort of land we can useI mean if I ’m going to look for where I ’m going to site this plant is there anything that I ’ve got to have available (.)Does it have to be near a water source for example (.)Does it have to be near a supply of lots of electricityAre there any other constraints sort of geographical types of constraints that you can think of (1)

You need water (1) uhm in cooling (.)You need water [?] [?]Electricity (1) -?.?- (.)

RightWhat ’s the other thing you need to have in order to operate this process (1)

Availability of materials (.)

OKAvailability of materials

But there ’s something else even more


RightManpower (1)Have you thought at all about the (.) nature of that uh (1) labour force (1) about the composition of that labour force (1)I mean how many people are you going to require to run this plant (1)Any ideas John (1)And on what basis do you assume two hundredRightIt ’s a continuous processit ’s a moot pointbut I think uhm you probably wouldn’t be able to get people to work effectively for up to twelve hoursso I think you ’d have to have a three-shift dayotherwise you ’ll have people falling asleep on the job (1)But is this plant going to be uhm highly automated or not (1)And what implications does the level of automation have on therefore (.) the level of manning and the sort of manning you require (1)

More computersLess people

Right (1)So what sort of process have you got here (1) Victortell me

It ’s a process

An automated process


OK (.)So then what are the implications (1)Are you really going to have around two hundred people like John has on his penicillin plantor are you going to (.) try and get away with fewer

Uh fewer [?]

OK (.)But something ’s going to happen I thinkIf you go towards a more automated plant I think the nature of the skills that the people will have will be different (.) apart from the fact that they ’ll need to be able to stay awake like hyenas [?] [?] (1)What sort of people are you going to be employing (.) if it ’s going to be an automated plant

Uh skilled people (1)

So now does that make a differenceIf I decided I ’m going to put this plant in a Third World country is it going to be as easy for me to find (.) relevant personnel as it is if I ’m going to put it in a developed industrialized country like uh this one

No (1)

You might do

RightSo you need to think carefully about (.) the quality and the sorts of training these people would have had in order to be able to be competent to run your process don’t you (1)

But it ’s not on a green field site no this plant (1)

I can’t rememberwas it a green field site or was it adjoining an existing (.)

YeahIt ’s joining an existing plant

OKBut have we said what that existing plant is doing (.)



And it may be old technology as well mayn’t itSo I think you need to raise the question at the board level don’t youYeahSo uh you ’ve got somewhere within this executive summary a statement to the effect that this process will require this sort of level of manning (.) uh by these sorts of people (.) and for these reasons we believe that it will require to be situated (1) in a certain (.) sort of location (.) having access to certain sorts of people (1)I think John your two hundred ’s an order of magnitude out (.)I should think the number of people who would actually run a process like this would be really quite smallBut you ’d need to think carefully about the number of support people required to actually administer (.) a process like thisBecause you ’re going to be producing material for clinical use (.) eventually there ’s going to be quite a lot in terms of quality assurance and backup (.) uh taking samples [?] those samples in laboratories (1)

Questions for discussion

  • What do you notice about who is using the interrogative clauses in this extract?
  • Why do you think there are so many interrogatives in the extract? What is the purpose behind the questions being asked? Does the questioner want to find out information that he or she doesn’t know?
  • Can you identify some tag questions among the interrogative clauses? How are these being used in the interaction?
  • The first contribution from B is Yes, but this does not follow an interrogative clause. What is going on in this exchange?

Comparing other extracts

You could explore further by choosing one of the other extracts below, or by collecting your own data. Here are some points to keep in mind when looking at interrogatives and questions:

  • Look out for the different ways in which interrogatives can be used, as they are not always used to ask questions. For example, Could you pass me the hammer? would be used to request someone to perform an action.
  • Look out for other ways, besides interrogatives, of asking questions. One way is to use a rising tone at the end of a sentence (You’re coming with us?). This type of question may not be so easy to identify in a transcript unless you can listen to the recording, though the response may give you a clue.
  • Look out for the different reasons for asking questions. A questioner is not always trying to find out information that he or she doesn’t already know.

The extracts below are as follows, with figures for the percentage of main clauses which are interrogative:

  • private conversation among four speakers (21%)
  • legal cross-examination, where A is a barrister acting as plaintiff's counsel and B is a defence witness (30%)
  • parliamentary debate (House of Commons), where A is the speaker of the house and there are many other speakers (37%)

Private conversation extract

I met a girl on the train today

Oh (.)

You picked up a girl on the train

I did not pick her up

I met her

SorryUh you met a girl on the train

What ’s the difference between meeting and picking up

Well she ’s not here (1)

Oh I see


I met her and

You picked her up and dropped her did you

Picked her up and dropped her yeah

Only to pick her up againI hope (.)

Oh well if you ’ve got her telephone number you picked her up

Did you get her telephone number

I got her phone number

Oh well you picked her up [?...?] it all yes (1)

You picked her up

Uhm I ’m sorry everybody thenit looks like that was a definite pick-up then (.)

What sort of a girl is she


Is she Chinese

No she ’s English

She ’s the first English girl I ’ve spoken to for about three or four years I thinkA very strange feeling

It ’s an English girlYes quite

What sort of English girl

Very very frightening [?...?] saying

but she


Oh absolutely and you know so much about them


Even more frightening than knowing they can understand what you ’re saying

That ’s what I said

Oh I see I thought you said it was very frightening being able to understand what they were saying

Yes they know too much about


Uhm (.)

Yes the English are branded on their tongue as they say don’t they so uh as soon as you speak you know they usually know what an idiot you are

So this one was (.) lower middle-class in that case

In Chinese I know even more

But what about A one B two (1) as grouping uhmI ’d say she was probably a B two (.) or maybe a B one

UhmPity (.)

She ’s a student at Saint Martin ’s I think

Is she

Uhm (1)

B one means she ’s pretty sort ofAre you talking about appearance now


How would you go about uh her

On appearance

This is class evidently

Class class

Uh start with class

three-or-four-wordsYes right

That ’s right isn’t it

Yes yes so that ’s it

Yes yes that ’s right

We were estimating her income

I mean if she ’s a student at Saint Martin ’s she would presumably be covered

No no but I ’m saying if she hadMichael ’s so [?...?] [?...?] accent and so on


It ’s what she earns

Her parents get


Yes oneuh and appearance

Appearances don’t go A one and A twoIt goes on a scale from one to ten (laugh)


Where was she

And she is four and a half five (1)That ’s pretty good

I ’ve heard that ’s very good and uh uh

it ’s very hard

Not bad

Uh uh uh what do you mean below half way down the ratings

Yeah just (.)

There ’s a very severe judge this

I should imagine he is yes yes

Nobody here is above eight

Being one of the beautiful people himself he uh has these high standards (1)Anybody that ’s got an eye each side of their nose and can walk around to me is a tremendous beauty he says (1)


that ’s

Anyway anyway anyway Louis tell us more about her

I don’t know much about herI ’ve got her phone number right hereThe thing is what ’s the etiquette of this

You ’re then meant to wait a couple of days before you ring them up or else it appears uncool you know


Ring her tomorrow and invite her out

Just say I happen to be going to the theatre and I have two tickets

Credit line

Is that all I say


Well there ’s

Don’t ask me what you sayYou ’re the expert at this

there ’s the strike while the iron is hot policy (.)And there is the other policy adopted by a friend of mine who always lets thirteen days pass

Thirteen days he calculated would as it were just allow such expectations like boredom with it uhm melt into a vague disappointment (1)So [?...?] however attractive she was he counted off thirteen days and then rang her




I would be afraid that in three days she ’d have forgotten all about me let alone thirteen (.)

Ah you seethe danger is uhm he ’s not like Louis of course and more like me a sort of person that would find it hard to uh be attractiveso if (1) he always felt that he ’d

This good-spirited

Person ’d be intrigued by the thirteen day gapShe ’d be so confident she ’d got him

that he ’d ring

she would hesitate whether to [?] him



But that sounds as uh he was slightly blasé[?] [?] (.)

Do you want to appear blasé

I don’t know (.)

Ring her tomorrow

Can you appear blaséDo you think that someone from this particular socioeconomic group (1)

Uh don I don’t know

Or is she so used to that (1) that the sort of direct D three approach might be more effective you know so (.)

She ’s sitting there at this very moment saying why doesn’t he ring me at this moment (.)

Yes of course

If you rang her now she ’d say yes LouisI bet you ten quid on itI mean it

I hope she doesn’t work at this institute (1) or this institute

There ’s the plot of a novel there (.)

Not quite

There is a novel

Or a short story

There is a short story

A crime novelIt ’d be a murder story (1)

I think there ’s a Barbara Cartland romance actually (1)Four and a half he called me she quavered (1)Surely it couldn’t have been him from lake thirty-five (1)

Yes (1)

Can I set it in Regency times (.)I ’d have the equivalent of a stage coach or something (1)

Don’t think their picking up was quite the same was it (.)

I mean it

What do they doI don’t know I mean

Well I mean say eighteenth century relationships between men and women were very different because if it was a low class womanand we have a precedent from Boswell ’s London Journal (.) where he comes out of Saint Paul ’s Cathedral after being elevated by a very fine sermon and determined to better his life but unfortunately meets a trollop at the bridge (.) and then goes home regretting that he had not brought a sheath with him and fearing they were going to be

Uhm (laughter)if I remember Boswell ’s London Journal he almost invariably does

Yes he ’s endlessly getting

Has thirty days on mercury curesthree-or-four-words very painful for

That ’s rightStraight after the Dean ’s sermon as well

Yes uhm (.)God it must ’ve been awful in those days

Well yeah (1)How would you arrange these things without a telephoneI was wondering that (1)

What did they do

I think people moved in a much smaller circle then in those days thoughI don’t know what they did

UhmWell they dropped cards in I suppose the doorsOr was that nineteenth century

Wonder what people do now

I think that ’s more nineteenth century

Uhm (1)

How did men arrange to be with women whether they were unmarried or married (.)Below them I mean

Who knows

Cos they did didn’t theythere was certain intimacy in the eighteenth centuryPeople were in

Johnson certainly uh sat with Mrs Thrale a long time and whatever in intimate conversations (1)


It was more like now than the nineteenth century was


Uhm I think the nineteenth

Well it depends very much again what class you were in and (1)

TheAnd where you were

It would be the equivalent of talking to a girl on the stage between Dover and London (1)

But I don’t (.)It ’s difficult to imagine people (1) picking women up and

I think yeah (.)You get a bit [?...?] these daysOh I know where we wereDickensNow Dickens setting his uh Tale of Two Cities has the meeting of the I forget the name of the girl or the manindeed so uh probably boring both of them uhm charactersUh the Frenchman who marries the doctor ’s daughter

I know yes yes

Now they meet on the packet sailing from England don’t theyAnd all Dickens says that he called on the doctorAnd I think that was the etiquette

You called on the man (.) and as it were exchange as many words as you could on the way to the study door (1)And Othello of course calls on uh Desdemona ’s father doesn’t he and then he tells her the story of his life

Yes so you must call on her father quite obviously and uhm (1)

Yes right


I think I ’ve got this together eventually

Oh goody (1)

I hope this is good (.)It comes from Marks and Spencer ’s (.)

Bound to be (1)

Yes oh that ’s niceDoes she play tennis

I don’t know (.)Haven’t gone into that yet


You ’ll be lucky if she doesn’t (1)

Yeah I was on the way to see my grandmother (1)Cheery afternoon in the old people ’s home (1)

Coming back from work was sheOh no she ’s a student

She ’s a student

Oh that ’s good (1)Is it Martin ’sIs it School of Art

That ’s right yeah


Oh that sounds jolly good (1)Suitable isn’t itartist and writer (.) poverty stricken (1)

One tearing up canvasesthe other stamping on (1)Both weeping uncontrollably (1)

Do you think that an artist should uhm live with another artist


Or can an artist only live with another artist (1)

I don’t know

Robin what do you think

Uh what about

candoes an artist have to live with an artist (.)

Does an artist have to live with an artist

YesWhat happens

I don’t see why

Uh do they have to or can they

well uh Browning uhm and Emily you see lived together


Browning and uh

Uh not Emily uhm (.)Elizabeth (.)



Uhm (1)

Turner lived very happily with (.)I don’t know

I think artists have sort of great (.) understanding of women[?...?] (1)

Bank managers

Right I ’m going to dish this up now (1)

No I think I would certainly want to live with someone that could understand one ’s own angst and anxieties

Uhm (1)

Some bright breezy soul would be a nightmare in (1)

Yeah maybe (.)I think I don’t want to live with anybody at the moment actually (.)

You don’t want to live with them

You ’re not a neurotic wreck on the other hand uhm

No no (1)

Anyway it ’s nice to have met her

Uhm (1)So how ’s it going with this rewrite (1)

Uh well I don’t know about calling it anything like that uh (1)I ’m not utterly at the bottom of the road uhm (.) coconut (1)I can only see the book being about a thousand pages longthat ’s the trouble

So complex

Will anyone congratulate me on my cooking

Oh look at that

Wow marvellous

Uh this comes entirely from Marks and Spencer ’s

Doesn’t it look delicious though

And all I had to do was heat it up

Legal cross-examination extract

Uh you were telling us on Friday what advice you would give to Manulite if they were uh the owners of the brown wallJust want you to alter the scenario very slightlyManulite are still the owners of the brown wall (.) occupied by a tenant of theirsAnd you get instructions from ManuliteGo off and do a schedule of dilapidations for this job (.)And you come to the brown wall (.) and you see the condition in which it stands as described by uh your client (.)What d’ you say in your schedule of dilapidations (1)

Do I have the benefit of P C Ninety-four when I do the inspection

You know all that we know about the wall (1)

I would refer to the covenant in the lease concerning uh the tenant ’s obligations

Full repairing lease (1)

I ’d ask the tenant to (.) either rebuild or underpin the wall (.)Yeah (1)

Now (.) can we (.) uhm (1) move on in bundle five (.) two eighty (1)that was (.) uh (1) when you sent (.) the report to Scott Cooper and Fox and Harrison isn’t it (1)

Yes (1)



And that was when you told those two what had been decided about uh (.) work to the wall (.)

Yes (.)

And then on the same day page two eight one (.) uh (1) you (1) send an update to Gareth Thomas don’t you (.)And after the five items you say the work that the above now progressing as our discussions on Wednesday and Thursday which would be the third and fourth of FebruaryRight (1)

Yes (.)

And then (.) in the uh next two letters page (.) two eight two and two eight three (.) uhm (.) the uh clients Manulite (.) uh make it plain that if you were talking about underpinning rather than cosmetic it was cosmetic that they wanted (1)

Yes (1)

Uhm (1)Now we come to two eight four which was Mr Harrison ’s uh (.) reply to your letter of the fifth (1)Uhm (1)Now (.) how did you react to receiving this letter Mr Bailey (1)

That as we uhm (.) were going to carry out cosmetic repair (1) my client was (.) going to be asked to produce an indemnity (1)

And that you regarded as quite unacceptable (.) did you

Yes (1)

And uh did you therefore decide (.) simply to press (.) on with the instructions that Manulite had given (.) and to resist any attempt (.) by or on behalf of the people next door to secure any wider remedy than that

NoI wrote to Mr Harrison explaining to him the situation (1)

So are you saying you were prepared to discuss (.) negotiate (.) and amend the proposals

Yes (.)

Well we ’ll see (.)Page two eight five (1)You get (.)This is another memorandum of yours isn’t it

YesIt is

And you get a phone call from Scott CooperI suppose that ’s Ian Scott Cooper is it

I believe it wasYes (1)

And uh having recorded the matter (.) and given (.) certain advice to Mr Scott Cooper as he was concerned (.) you met uh (1) Mr Scott Cooper with Mr Hargreaves on the siteIs that right

That ’s correctYes (1)

Uhmjust let ’s see what the uh condition was at the time by reference to the photographs (.)We speak of brickwork being removed to allow uh rebuilding (1)Can you pick a photograph that uh shows us the position (.)For example (.) uh does forty-nine show us what was happening there (1)

YesI believe it does

Right (1)Uhm so having seen the uh wall you went to see the Scott Coopers

NoI don’t believe that ’s correctYeahI think I went straight to see the Scott Coopers

You think you went straight in (.)But uhm (1) was the uh (.) theme uh of Ian Scott Cooper (.) the same as he was telling My Lord in the witness boxcosmetics are not repairand we want the wall repaired (1)

NoThe theme was that uhm Mr Ian Scott Cooper wanted the underpinning works carried out

YesBecause (.) I ’m putting it to you he was saying that cosmetic treatment is not the same as repair (1)

NoI don’t agree

I daresay you don’t agreeWas what Mr Scott Cooper was putting to you (.) his view that cosmetic treatment was not repair (1)

NoI don’t believe he put it in that way

No (1)And uh (.) you and Mr Hargreaves explained on the matter of underpinning that it wasn’t simple (.) would necessitate removal of their rear wall (.) as underpinning alone wasn’t a practical proposition and so onIn other words you ’re saying if you ’re going to do anything more radical than cosmetic treatment you ’ve got to take this wall down and rebuild it (.)That ’s the effect isn’t it

I felt soYes

Yes (1)And then uh (.) you mentioned a very high risk of disturbance to other areas of the property uh currently undisturbed (.)Uhm (.)That ’s rather overstating it isn’t it uh (.) Mr BasnettThe risk surely is not to any parts of the property that were built on proper foundations but merely to those parts that were founded above the level of peatWouldn’t you agree

NoI don’t agree (1)

Then uh (.) you added (.) and the structure improved for the mutual benefit of the two propertiesUhm (1)Now why did you say that the loadings would be greatly reducedWas that guesswork or were you relying on something specific (1)

I believe the roofing scheme resulted in the reduction of the loading (.) coupled with the removal of the first floor store (1)

Uhm (1)Did you apply your mind to the question of whether the load from the first floor extension (.) uhm bore upon the blue wall (1)

Yes (1)

You assumed that it did


And you assumed that it did did you (.)

No (.)

You assumed that it didn’t

Yes (1)

So as regards the blue wall (.) you were really taking the view that the roof structure that was being put on again would be lighter than the roof structure that had been taken off

Yes (1)

Did you realise that uh the redesign of the roof meant that in terms of roof loading (.) the blue wall would be carrying a substantially greater part of the roof than before (1)

SorryCould you repeat the question

Did you realise at the time that because of the redesign of the roof (.) and I ’ll add to that because of the uh purlins that were coming to rest on the blue wall (.) the blue wall would be carrying a greater part of the roof load (.) than it had under the old roof

I didn’t treat the walls in isolation

Oh I see (1)If you had realised at the time (1) that as a result of the uh (.) alteration work to number fifty A (.) the blue wall would be carrying a greater load than before (.) would your attitude to the Scott Coopers on the twelfth have been different (1)

Could you repeat the question please

If you had appreciated that as a result of the alteration work to number fifty A (.) the blue wall would be carrying a greater load than before (.) would your attitude to the Scott Coopers on the twelfth have been different (1)

It would ’ve been dependent upon the size of the increase in the load (.)

It would ’ve been dependent on the size of the increaseSo I suppose your answer is possibly but you ’d ’ve had to give it closer considerationWould that be fair

Yes (.)

Yes (1)Uhm (.)Then there ’s the discussion about ownership of the party walland if we look at page two eight six (.)You point out that our client that ’s Manulite was also looking into ownership of the wall (.) and later that afternoon Gareth Thomas confirmed that the deeds were signed and therefore in view of the construction there the wall could probably be considered a party wall (.)was that Thomas talking to you or you talking to Thomas (.)

This therefore in view of the construction [?]

NoI can’t remember (1)

There wasn’t something that uh you said to the Scott Coopers was it on the property (1)

Sorry (.)

Uhm you weren’t saying to the Scott Coopers as the construction suggests (1) that uh (.) this wall isn’t owned by you the Scott Coopers (1)

The reflection of what I said is at the bottom of page two eight five (.)

Yes (1)Well we can see what you say that you said (.)What were you trying to put across

That we had supports already in the wall

Yes (.)Well no doubt (.)But uh that went to rights against the wall and not to ownership didn’t it (1)

YesI was more concerned with the support

I see (1)Uhm now in the very last sentence when you point out (.) to the Scott Coopers that the wall had in fact originally extended across part of the width of fifty A (.) are you talking of the green wall as was or of something else (.)

I believe I ’m talking about the green wall

Yes (1)Uhm (.)Then back on page two eight six you got the message that the Scott Coopers wanted you to stop work until their surveyor had inspectedUh (.) had you realised before this meeting that uh the Scott Coopers ’ surveyor hadn’t yet been to the premises (1)

I didn’t think he had been

Mm (1)Pretty reasonable suggestion wasn’t it for uh work to halt so that the two surveyors could get together (1)

It wasn’t put like that (1)

Wasn’t put like that (.)So uh (.) if it had been put like that you might have taken a different attitude

is that what you ’re saying

Well noMy attitude was (.) in that particular instance the fact that uh the uhm brickwork had been taken down in the corner of the blue and brown wall (.)I know that I did not want to leave it open over nightIn fact the repairs were already in hand (1)

You could ’ve sheeted it over or something (.)


No (1)But the state of the wall was all your doing your decision wasn’t it Mr Basnett (.)You were the chap that had it (.) uh (.) knocked down to that point (.)

The state of the wall was as we found it (1)

The state of the wall was just as you found it (.)

Uh but the brickwork [?...?] in the corner [?...?] state of repair

Yes (.)That ’s what I ’m putting to youThe state of the wall (.) uh the state in which you found the wall was the result of the work that you had directed to be done to the wall (.) wasn’t it


Uhm (1)What was the point of the last paragraph (1)You pointing out a void to the rear of the premises that belonged to Scott Cooper and it was in poor condition (1)

The contractor was concerned about the condition of the covers that were in that area

I ’m sorry you ’ve dropped your voice

The contractor was concerned about the condition of some covers [?...?] over a void in that area (1)

The condition of some covers

Yeah (.)There ’s a void there which was covered over

But uh this wasn’t even on the uh Manulite property was it

It was on the return wall

NoNoWe didn’t know whose property it was onWe thought it was on Scott Cooper ’s property but then we found out it wasn’t (1)

Uh wellI won’t spend time on things that don’t carry us further (1)And then the next thing that happens (.) is that your arranged meeting with Mr Harrison takes placeAnd we ’ve got your note on page two eight seven haven’t we

Yes (1)

Uhm (.)And in the second paragraph (.) you say (.) nothing ’s been done to the party wall to increase the loadingBut (.) there are your clients from Scott Cooper ’s at once claiming there ’s been internal damage (1)Did you question (1) that the crack to the main retail wall (.) had been caused by the building works in some way Mr Basnett (1)

I may have done but it ’s not recorded here

No (1)And the fact is (.) uhm you could see for yourself that the crack to the main retail (.) uh wallpaper must ’ve been caused in some way by the building works couldn’t you (.)

YeahQuite possibly [?...?] (1)

And then uh third paragraph you discuss the rear right corner the corner with the blue and brown walls (.)And Harrison says you wanted to carry out purely cosmetic treatmentAnd yet uh you had damaged (.) uh the property next doorAnd you were saying movement long standing because you ’ve got fractures elsewhere and by the works proposed you were decreasing and not increasing the loading

Parliamentary debate extract

OrderNow orderThe House knows that this matter may be debated on the Queen ’s speech specifically tomorrow and again on uh MondayI thinkso I ask for single questions pleaseUh (.) Sir William Clark

Would my uh right honourable friend agree that this is a very tight public expenditure settlementAnd both he and the (.) Chief Secretary are to be congratulated (.)In view of the fact that although the pundits in the media and the press have been saying there ’ll be an overshoot of some twelve billion pounds on public expenditure if one ignores the reserves there ’s only an overshoot of some four and a half billion poundsAnd despite our difficulties more and more money is being spent on capital projects not like the last Labour government who reduced public expenditure on the National Health Service and on roadsAnd isn’t it about time the opposition stopped talking down Britain and our economy

I think in his last remarks my right honourable friend asks for more than is likely to be delivered (.)It is perfectly true that this is a surprisingly tight package to many commentatorsIt does keep public spending at two hundred billion when many expected larger increases (.)The share of expenditure the national income remains unchanged when I think many expected at this stage of the cycle that it might increase and we still expect as I indicated earlier a substantial debt repayment in the present fiscal yearIt is a tight settlementIt was necessary to be a tight settlement

And we will continue to keep a tight control of public expenditure

Mr Alan Beith

Mr Speaker is it not clear that when you strip away the skilful and ingenious presentation this statement amounts to cuts in many areas and inadequate investment in the key areas of transport training and education (.) because the Government has to fund the massive inflation which it caused and because the Chancellor still has to leave room for the kind of income tax cuts which the Prime Minister keeps talking about without abandoning all semblance of fiscal respectability (.)And will the Chancellor confirm that the underlying rate of inflation will remain high throughout next year that inflation minus mortgage interest relief will be high throughout next yearDoes he regard that as a serious problemand what is he going to do about it

We expect underlying inflation to fall also next year (.) to broadly the level of the headline ratein so far as the individual programmes the honourable gentleman mentioned uh are concerned I ’ve already indicated to the House that something in excess of half a billion pounds is being added to the education budget largely to finance the very dramatic increase in the number of students in higher educationAnd the plans imply at least as much capital spending in schools and colleges next year uh as in the current yearon transport the priority this year uhsince there have been huge transport increases in each of the last two surveys the priority is the extra nearly six hundred million pounds mainly for the Jubilee Line extension the East West Crossrail and services for the Channel TunnelIt is a very good settlement for public transport for we are determined to produce an efficient effective public transport service

Mr Terence Higgins

As it ’s very important for the long term trend of public expenditure to decline as a percentage of national income would my right honourable friend agree that the primary role of the rate of interest must now be to keep uh sterling within the limits of the Exchange Rate Mechanism and as a result fiscal policy has become more important than ever beforeAnd against the present economic background are not the increases in planned public expenditure he has announced entirely appropriate if we are indeed to avoid the dangers of recessionAnd in that context is not the increase in transport expenditure which he ’s just announced particularly appropriate (1)

Uh I entirely see the point that my right honourable friend has madeHe is of course entirely right about the necessity of remaining uh within the uh bands in the exchange rate mechanism that we are committed to and equally entirely right that we will need to keep a very firm control of the trend rate of public expenditure in future years (.)

Mr Sheldon

YesUh may I press the Chancellor further on this question of the underlying rate of inflation (.) because when of course the underlying rate was less than the R P I they made a great deal of thatNow it ’s likely to be more than the R P I can we not have his forecast of the underlying rate of inflation excluding mortgage interest at the end of next year the fourth quarter

As the right honourable gentleman knows as a very distinguished former Treasury Minister the underlying rate of inflation has never been published for perfectly understandable reasons

Mr Wardle (.)

Mr Speaker what happened to my right honourable friend ’s forecast last year for the surplus on invisibles and to his belief that negative growth in G D P would be avoided this year (.)If his forecasts this year go even slightly astray just how disinflationary will two hundred billion pounds of spending beare there not lessons to be learnt from nineteen seventy-three seventy-four (.)

We do in fact have a surplus on invisibles this yearAnd I would expect there to be a surplus on invisibles next yearSo I think the underlying premise of my honourable friend ’s uh question is perhaps inaccurate

Mr Radice

Uhdoes the Chancellor of the Exchequer agree that as the planned uh spending total to a large extent reflects the Government ’s failure to control inflation and the mess over the poll tax there will in fact be little room for improvements in vital public servicesOn the other hand (.) will it not the increase in the public spending total actually disturb the marketsIn other words aren’t we in danger of getting the worst of all worlds disturbing the markets without satisfying the public (.)

Well of course if the markets listened to the honourable gentleman that would undoubtedly be the caseBut I suspect what the markets will notice is that we have kept a very tight control of inflation in the circumstances that prevailAnd I think the markets will welcome the fact that we have been able to do soIt is clearly important that we do

Mr Stewart

Uh now that my right honourable friend has announced the first part of his budgetary package on public expenditure and has shown very welcome restraint on the public expenditure totals will he not hesitate when the time comes to be equally austere in presenting his budget in the spring uh since a tight fiscal policy is the best foundation for restoring economic growth (.)

I am grateful to my right honourable friend for his early budgetary representation that I will consider with great care

Mr William Ross

NoI ’m not at this stage anticipating a public borrowing requirementAs I indicated in my statement our medium term policy is to remain nothing worse than balanced in terms of public borrowingI hope we will keep to that fiscal balanceWe have a surplus this year against the expectations of many commentators

Mr Tim Smith

Mr Speaker is my right honourable friend aware that his statement today on public expenditure is most welcome because he has succeeded in containing the increase in spending below that necessary to accommodate inflation while at the same time providing substantial additional resources for priority programmesBut doesn’t the substantial increase in cash spending next year show the urgent need to continue to press down on inflationAnd will my right honourable friend continue to take a tough uh stance on both monetary and fiscal policy

I entirely agree with everything said by my honourable friend and see no need to add to itI could not myself have expressed it as well

Mr Leadbetter (.)

Mr Speaker the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his statement earlier on indicated uh that he was still aware of the volatility of oil prices (.)Now (.) is the Chancellor aware that today there has been reported a seventy per cent increase to one point one billion pounds for the Shell Oil Company and it is therefore reasonable to deduce that there will be comparative increases for other oil companiesDoes he not accept that the volatility of oil prices is beneficial for the oil companies but the higher prices for the buyers of oil namely the motorists and industry is disadvantageousWould he not agree (.) that a lower profit margin and a more reasonable price margin would remove a serious element from the serious areas of inflation that concern the House at the moment (.)

That point has I believe been examined by the M M C as the honourable gentleman will knowHe ’s quite right that the volatility of oil is a damaging uncertainty in the projections that we must make in this country and that other countries must make as wellIt is for that reason that I have taken the assumption similar to that taken in many other areas of an oil price down to twenty-five dollars by the end of nineteen ninety-one (.)

Mr Nelson

Is my right honourable friend aware that on this side of the House we fully support the contents as well as the style and tone of his statement this afternoon (.)Uhmand uh will he accept congratulations as well as the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on showing a clear matter of political judgement in the priorities they ’ve given to increased health spendingBut would he agree that if we are to increase as we must expenditure on these areas it would be quite improper at a time when our constituents are having to tighten their belts if they were to be faced with an increased burden of taxation next year (1)

I am uh grateful to my honourable friend for his kind remarks uh both to me and my right honourable friend the Chief SecretaryAs my honourable friend knows I do believe my right honourable friend has produced a remarkably successful out-turn to the public expenditure roundI do think it is uh important to sustain the expenditure on healthand on this occasion we have managed to increase it in real terms by five per cent againI note the point my honourable friend makes about taxationBut as he will know uh I must only consider that in the period between now and the budget

Mr Fraser (.)

Rooflessness as he calls itgoing through the roofhow many extra homes to rent will be provided by the public sector as a result of this statement (.)

My right honourable friend will be making that clear in his own statement

Mr Budgen

Mr Speaker since my right honourable friend is promising very substantial increases in public expenditure will he confirm that there will be room either for substantial cuts in interest rates when it is safe to do that or for cuts in taxation but not for both (1)

My uh honourable friend is well aware that I cannot comment on the prospects for taxationAnd I have no intention of doing soIn so far as interest rates are concerned uh I will not cut uh interest rates until I am absolutely satisfied that it is safe and secure to do so

Mr Salmond

Am I correct in uh thinking that the Chancellor has assumed two thousand seven hundred million pounds for oil revenues in the current year bringing to a round total of ninety thousand million the total to which Scottish oil revenues have bankrolled this government over the last ten yearsCan the Chancellor tell the House what has happened to the additional revenues from the North Sea due to higher oil prices running according to the brokers ’ forecasts at twenty million pounds a dayHow much of that has gone to the oil companiesand how much to the ChancellorI ’m sure the Chancellor will appreciate the anxiety of people in Scotland today to find out the answer to that question given the announcement of further steel closures and further abandonment of North Sea steel markets to the Japanese and the Germans


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