§ Commons' Amendment to Lords Amendments considered (according to order).
After Clause 4, to insert the following new clause: '5. Nothing in this Act shall be construed so as to prohibit a local authority from admitting the public to its meetings, and, subject to the accommodation available, the public shall have the right of admission to meetings of local authorities at all times when the Press is admitted to such meetings under this Act.'
§ The Commons propose to amend this Amendment by leaving out from the word "meetings" in line 2, to the end of the clause.
THE EARL OF DONOUGHMORE
said he had been in communication with those who objected to the proviso as it left their Lordships' House, and the following proviso would meet their views: "Subject to the accommodation available, the public shall be admitted to the meetings of a local authority at such times as representatives of the Press have a right to be present under the provisions of Section 1 of this Act unless the local authority, by a majority, otherwise determine." He would formally move that Amendment in order to enable a discussion to take place.
THE EARL OF ONSLOW
thought he was correct in saying that when the noble Lord moved the original Amendment he did so on his own account, and not on behalf of the County Councils Association. Strong representations against the Amendment put in at the instance of Lord Belper had been made by the Borough Councils Association, and they greatly preferred the Commons' Amendment. Unless the Government expressed some view to the contrary he thought their Lordships would be well advised to agree to the Commons' Amendment.
§ * LORD ALLENDALE
said the Government preferred the words which had been inserted by the Commons to the words suggested by the noble Earl, Lord Donoughmore. He did not think the words which had been suggested would very materially alter the effect. Although 2048 he appreciated the noble Earl's position in reference to Lord Belper's Amendment, he would remind the House that the Bill was one dealing with admission to the Press and did not affect the public. He hoped their Lordships would agree with the Commons' Amendment.
§ VISCOUNT MIDLETON
said that if they took the course suggested by the Government they would be giving the Press a right which they were not giving to the public. He thought the Commons' Amendment went too far. The Amendment proposed that the public should have an equal right with the Press subject to exclusion by a special vote.
§ * THE EARL OF CREWE
This has come down to an extremely small matter, because, as proposed by the noble Earl opposite, there is a distinct preference to the Press, and you cannot get over it. The Press have a right of admission, and the public have only a right of admission if the local authority agree. I put it to the noble Lord whether it is worth while to send this Bill back to the House of Commons with this extremely minute Amendment.
THE EARL OF DONOUGHMORE
said the difficulty he was in was that Lord Belper was not present. As the Government had appealed to him he did not think it would be necessary to put their Lordships to the trouble of a division, and he begged to withdraw his Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Commons' Amendment agreed to.