HL Deb 13 July 1977 vol 385 cc894-6

2.37 p.m.

Lord O'NEILL of the MAINE

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government when it is hoped to start the broadcasting of Parliament.

The LORD PRIVY SEAL (Lord Peart)

My Lords, subject to the approval by Parliament of the detailed arrangements, it is anticipated that occasional sound broadcasts of Parliamentary proceedings will begin this autumn and that regular sound broadcasts will begin about next February.

Lord O'NEILL of the MAINE

My Lords, while thanking the Minister for his reply, may I ask whether or not he feels that the BBC did a very good job, with no facilities whatsoever, in 1975? We have had the benefit, or the disadvantage, of that Pugin-like box up in the Gallery for the last several months, doubtless to the disadvantage of the members of the Press Gallery. I hope that the broadcasting of Parliament will not be subject to any further delay resulting from disagreements which may arise between the officers of the Government, the officers of the House and the BBC.


My Lords, I understand that. However, the noble Lord will know that we shall be debating the matter here; indeed, it will be debated in another place. I hope that we shall have a debate before we rise for the Summer Recess.


My Lords, may I ask my noble friend whether he intends to abandon that monstrosity up there? If he does, a few old colliery friends of mine would like to have it for a pigeon loft.


My Lords, the noble Lord will have the opportunity to express his opinion during the debate.


My Lords, will the noble Lord bear in mind that I do not want our House, or indeed Parliament, to be broadcast from an instrument? I like Parliament much better without it.


My Lords, the noble Baroness will know that her conservative views have been shared by different people, even by me at one period. However, the decision to broadcast Parliament was made. Therefore, I hope that before the Summer Recess the noble Baroness will be able to participate in a debate during which she will be able to express her views.


My Lords, may I ask whether agreement has yet been reached about the regulations for broadcasting, and whether my noble friend is aware that there is some doubt about them, since Front-Benchers on both sides may be recorded verbatim while Back-Benchers will have very little prominence in the broadcasting?


My Lords, I suspect that my noble friend has looked at a Motion on the Order Paper in another place. I believe that he should express this view in our debate. I do not believe that Front-Benchers wish to monopolise debates.


My Lords, is it really necessary that your Lordships should debate this question yet again? The House has decided upon it on a number of occasions. We know exactly what we all think. I should have thought that another debate would be a total waste of time.

Several noble Lords: Hear, hear!


My Lords, I thought that this question had been agreed long before I was ever a Member of this House. However, I am prepared to look into it; the less debate the better.