HC Deb 28 January 1985 vol 72 cc15-6
33. Mr. Canavan

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will arrange for the House to have an opportunity of debating and voting on televised broadcasting of the proceedings of the House.

Mr. Biffen

Members will wish to take account of the experience in another place before deciding upon a further debate on the televised broadcasting of proceedings of this House.

Mr. Canavan

Is it not a poor reflection on the House of Commons that even the non-elected geriatric House of Lords is seen as more of an open House than this comparatively exclusive club? If this place really is the people's Parliament, why should the people not be allowed to see just what exactly their elected representatives are getting up to? Or are the Government afraid of more publicity being given to ex-Tory Prime Ministers who expose the disastrous policies of this discredited Government?

Mr. Biffen

Ignoring the commercials and addressing myself to the substance of the question, I say to the hon. Gentleman that this is clearly a House of Commons matter and I think that the House will wish to proceed by taking account of the experiment now being undertaken in another place.

Mr. Peter Bruinvels

Will my right hon. Friend take note that many of my hon. Friends do not want a debate on the possible televising of this House, and, indeed, do not want to see their House televised at all?

Mr. Biffen

Of course I take note of that view, knowing as I do that the most rich variety of opinions will be expressed on this topic.

Dr. Owen

Will the Leader of the House give a commitment that he will definitely arrange for a debate once the experiment is over in the House of Lords and not just leave it in this rather vague way? The House deserves to know that there will be a debate.

Mr. Biffen

Yes, the right hon. Gentleman makes a fair point. The House will wish to consider the matter further and I hope that I shall be in a position to offer time when the occasion arises.

Mrs. Kellett-Bowman

Will my right hon. Friend take due note of the attendance of the Lords spiritual and temporal once the novelty has worn off? There seemed to be a remarkably large attendance on the first day. It will be interesting to see how many attend from now on.

Mr. Biffen

I am sure that many in this House will monitor exactly what is happening in the other place.

Mr. Shore

If the House is to take account, as I suspect it will wish to, of the experiment in the other place, would it not be sensible if some arrangement were made whereby the Select Committee on Sound Broadcasting of this place was able to join the similar body in the other place to scrutinise and monitor the experiment?

Mr. Biffen

I suspect that that already falls within the ambit of the Committee, but I shall look at that constructive point further.

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