HC Deb 11 December 1978 vol 960 cc23-4
27. Mr. Adley

asked the Lord President of the Council what recent representations he has received about the broadcasting of the proceedings of the House.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Privy Council Office (Mr. William Price)

My right hon. Friend has received no formal representations on this matter recently.

Mr. Adley

Is not that rather surprising, especially in view of the rather unruly scenes in the House last Thursday evening? However, does the Minister recognise that there is criticism but that, nevertheless, this House compares well with, shall we say, the Supreme Soviet? Will the hon. Gentleman do his best, therefore, to ensure that the broadcasting authorities endeavour to educate the public in the difference between this House and other parliaments rather than in the difference between this House and a four-ale bar?

Mr. Price

As one who spends a certain amount of time in four-ale bars, I must say that I do not see very much wrong with that, either. I remind the hon. Member that there is a body comprising both Houses of Parliament which is in existence for the very purpose of discussing any problems which arise over broadcasting. That body has had very little business. One can only draw from that the conclusion that most people in this House are satisfied.

Mr. Buchan

Does my hon. Friend agree that there were no unruly proceedings in this House on Thursday, other than the petulant behaviour of the Tory Front Bench, and that an intelligent exercise in the defence of democracy was carried on by the masses in this House when the Executive had failed to see the right course of action?

Mr. Price

I think that that is right.

Mr. Kenneth Lewis

Is the Minister aware that the public think that there is a lot of unruly activity in this House? Would it not be just as well if they could see as well as hear it? Is the hon. Gentleman aware, further, that whereas the Opposition consistently listen to the Prime Minister during Prime Minister's Questions, even though we do not get very satisfactory answers from him, Government supporters do not extend the same courtesy to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition? Will the hon. Member ask the Leader of the House to control his hon. Friends who sit below the Gangway, who hardly ever let my right hon. Friend get in a point?

Mr. Price

I had not found that to be a major problem. Whatever else I might think and say about the Leader of the Opposition, I do not think that there is any doubt about her ability to make her point. There is a difficulty about noise in the Chamber. I got into hot water some months ago for suggesting just that. There is a problem, and I do not think that people always understand fully just how the business of this House is conducted. However, I would prefer to have no broadcasting at all than to have doctored broadcasts.