HC Deb 27 January 1992 vol 202 cc701-2
43. Mr. Tony Banks

To ask the Lord President of the Council if he will make arrangements for Members to receive output from the parliamentary channel introduced as from 13 January 1992.

Mr. MacGregor

As making the parliamentary channel available in Members' rooms would be tantamount to supplying a clean feed direct from the Chamber, it would be for the Select Committee on Broadcasting, Etc. in the first instance, to approve such a proposal. There are, however, technical problems which look like precluding the provision of this service for all Members before 1994. I hope to arrange for the Broadcasting Committee to consider the issue at an early date. Any eventual recommendation to proceed would be a matter for the House as a whole to decide.

Mr. Banks

Will the Lord President tell the House what the technical difficulties are? It seems absurd that, while extended coverage of our proceedings is now available, Members cannot have a sound and vision feed to their rooms. The idea that this Chamber is a place to which we all come to be influenced by the ebb and flow of debate and the oratory of Members is totally ridiculous. Why should we come to the Chamber to be bored rigid when we could be bored rigid in the comparative comfort of our own offices?

Mr. MacGregor

It would be technically possible now for some Members' offices to be given the feed. The real problem is that this building does not have the necessary cable ducts. Given the nature of the building, the provision of ducts is a very complex task. At the moment, consultants are looking into the matter in detail, and their report will be put before the Broadcasting Committee for its consideration. However, it seems likely from the preliminary indications that it would not be possible to complete the work until 1994.

Sir John Stokes

Does my right hon. Friend agree that there are possibly far too few people in the Chamber and, even more important, far too few in the Smoking Room, the most vital part of the House of Commons? If hon. Members are going to be glued to their television sets, as apparently some are at home, there will be even fewer of them about anyway.

Mr. MacGregor

I agree with my hon. Friend that it is extremely important to bear in mind the key significance of the Chamber and the Smoking Room. We must take that into account. On the other hand, many hon. Members want such a facility directly available to them and we are examining that.