HC Deb 26 November 1984 vol 68 cc612-3
53. Mr. Willie W. Hamilton

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will initiate an experiment in closed televising of the proceedings of the House using Westminster Hall as a viewing venue.

Mr. Biffen

I have no such proposals. Any such experiment would be a matter for decision by the House as a whole.

Mr. Hamilton

I accept that, but does the right hon. Gentleman agree that, sooner or later, the introduction of television cameras into the House is inevitable? If so, will he use his good offices to ensure that the underused facilities provided by Westminster Hall are used for this type of experiment?

Mr. Biffen

It would be an affront to the House if I endorsed the doctrine of inevitability in the matter of television broadcasting. In sheer terms of practicality, I think that the House would be well advised to see what is determined in another place tomorrow.

Mr. Stokes

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many hon. Members on both sides of the House would deplore the entry of the television camera into this Chamber? It would alter the character of this place and give it more of a showbiz atmosphere than it has now.

Mr. Biffen

I am aware of my hon. Friend's views, which he advances in a most engaging fashion. This is a topic on which the House has made periodic judgments, and I have no doubt that it will wish to do so again in future.

Mr. Bidwell

If cameras are admitted to the House, will the right hon. Gentleman ensure that they can record hon. Members coming out of the Division Lobbies? For example, cameras might have witnessed the events of last Thursday when the right hon. Gentleman was with the Tellers, presumably to see who was coming out of the No Lobby? Was his presence the result of pure curiosity, or was it a means of intimidation?

Mr. Biffen

I have never before had the compliment of intimidation levelled against me. The hon. Gentlman"s question ranges wide of the original one. However, my loitering arose out of pure curiosity, so that I could anticipate by five minutes information that could be secured from the Clerks' Department.

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