HC Deb 16 December 1958 vol 597 c932
30. Mr. Woof

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs the outcome of the discussions which his Department has been having with the local authority associations with regard to the admission of the Press to council meetings.

Mr. Bevins

The discussions are not yet concluded.

Mr. Woof

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that the Whickham Urban District Council in my constituency is denying reasonable facilities to the local Press by automatically taking council meetings in committee? Is he also aware that the senior officials are being deprived of the monthly reports which contain their work? What is worse and disgusting for these conscientious officials is the humiliation in being kept in suspense waiting outside the council chamber to be called to answer questions put by the councillors. Does the Minister or the Parliamentary Secretary approve of these methods, or are they prepared to use their influence to bring about a better mode of conduct and behaviour?

Mr. Bevins

Obviously, my right hon. Friend cannot deal with a question of this nature piecemeal on the basis of one local authority here and another there. What we have done is to have conversations with the Association of Municipal Corporations, which is taking evidence from its members. My right hon. Friend has also received a deputation from the Press, and we hope in the near future to come to a policy decision in this matter.

Mr. Lindgren

My hon. Friend's supplementary question, which admittedly was rather long, introduced something new, from which, I understand, council officials are now being excluded from council meetings. Surely that is very undesirable?

Mr. Bevins

I entirely agree. If the hon. Member will give me that information I will gladly have it looked into.