HL Deb 27 November 1984 vol 457 cc764-75

2.55 p.m.

Lord Aberdare rose to move, That the Report of the Select Committee on Televising the House be agreed to. [1st Report, 1983–84, H.L. 299.]

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move that the report be agreed to. On 8th December last year the House voted on a Motion by the noble Lord, Lord Soames, by 74 votes to 24: That this House endorses its decision of 15th June 1966 in favour of the public televising of some of its proceedings for an experimental period and instructs the Sound Broadcasting Committee to consider and report how this decision should be implemented".

This report is the result of that Motion.

Before I go into some of the details of our recommendations, I should just like to make two general points. The first is this. The committee was asked to make proposals for the implementation of the decision to experiment and we were not concerned with the desirability of televising House of Lords' proceedings. The decision to have an experiment had been taken and we were only required to suggest how it might best be put into effect.

The second point that I should like to make is that our remit was confined to proposals for an experimental period and not for the longer-term televising of proceedings in Parliament, should that ever come about. Of course we had to bear in mind the longer-term possibilities, but our main concern was with a viable experiment. We undertook our task with these two limitations in the forefront of our minds.

The first problem to confront us was, as usual, finance. We were in no doubt that no experiment would ever get off the ground if it involved much public expenditure. However, this problem was, fortunately, solved for us when the BBC and the IBA accepted that they would treat the televising of the House in this experimental period in the same way as any other outside broadcast. Whenever, therefore, they might wish to televise our proceedings, either for immediate live broadcasting or for recording, editing and subsequent transmission, they would bring their cameras and their lights into the Chamber, making use of cabling and installation arrangements which would be provided by the House.

The effect of this agreement is that public funds would bear a maximum cost of £10,000 for the whole experiment, whereas the BBC estimate that each one day they televise could cost them anything up to £20,000.

For the rest of the arrangements we relied heavily upon the well-proven example of sound broadcasting. We recommend that the selection of what is broadcast and editorial control should be left to the broadcasting authorities, as it is in the case of sound broadcasting. We recommend that the terms of the Resolution of the House of 27th July 1977, under which sound broadcasting operates, should also apply to the television experiment. We recommend that the position with regard to matters of copyright, parliamentary privilege and the law of defamation should remain the same as it is in the case of sound broadcasting.

Your Lordships will see that we recommend a six-month experiment, to start possibly next January. Obviously one of the most important factors in any decision that your Lordships make will be the physical effect on this Chamber of the presence of television cameras for those six months. We have arranged that the intended positions of the four cameras on the Floor of the House should be marked for your Lordships to see by the four lecterns in the four corners of the House. I do not think that they are intrusive and their operators would be given strict instructions to make themselves as inconspicuous as possible. On certain occasions the broadcasters might wish to make use of hand-held cameras, but in that case they would still operate from the same four positions. I should perhaps add that were it to come about that television became a permanent feature of this House then the possibility is that we should be using remote-controlled cameras slung from under the galleries, but that would be a long-term plan.

More intrusive, and most important to your Lordships' decision of course, is the lighting, which you will be now experiencing. May I say at once that the broadcasters themselves realise how sensitive a matter this is and they have indeed done their very best to limit the increased lighting required to the minimum consistent with a picture on the television screen compatible with what viewers are accustomed to expect on other occasions.

They experimented with various methods. They tried using lights outside the windows, and they tried indirect light reflected from panels, but what has emerged is, with one alteration, what you see today: these lighting panels in the windows. My Lords, since these lights have been erected, and only this morning, it has been agreed that they should be higher up. They can be raised by about four feet and they will, if your Lordships agree to an experiment, be fixed halfway up the windows and not where they are at the moment, at the bottom of the windows. This I think will assist again in reducing the glare.

These lights, I would emphasise, will only be required when television is actually in progress. At other times they can be slowly dimmed and extinguished when not required, and we have arranged in the course of this debate that they will indeed be dimmed and extinguished for quite a considerable time and brought up again at the end of the debate. How often televising will take place will of course depend on the broadcasters and their interest in the particular business that happens to be going on on any particular day. But, if I may hazard a guess purely of my own, I believe it is unlikely to happen more often than about two or three times a month once the novelty has worn off.

My Lords, I would also emphasise that the lighting arrangements you see today are only for the experimental six-month period. Should the televising of Parliament come about on a permanent basis then different considerations would apply. I have little doubt that the necessary level of lighting could be achieved by adaptation of the original Pugin design of the Chamber. This would clearly involve considerable cost to the public purse not justifiable for an experiment, which is what your committee had to consider.

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede

My Lords, before the noble Lord leaves the question of lighting could he say something about the level of illumination being used right now?

Lord Aberdare

My Lords, I thought I had made it clear that the level of illumination now is what would actually be the level of illumination whenever televising is taking place during the six-month experiment.

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede

This is the 80 per cent.?

Lord Aberdare

My Lords, I think that the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, is referring to the fact that when we saw it this morning it was what was called 100 per cent. and it has now been reduced to 80 per cent., but it is satisfactory from the broadcasters' point of view and it is the lowest possible level of light that gives a reasonable picture.

May I draw your Lordships' attention to one or two particular points that arise in the report? First of all, there is the matter of ministerial statements made in another place and repeated here. We recommend that these should not be televised in view of understandable sensitivities in another place. The noble Lord, Lord Diamond, has put down an amendment to the effect that this recommendation of ours should be negatived.

We did discuss the matter in considerable depth in the committee. We came to the conclusion that it would be undesirable to risk the goodwill of Ministers in another place by allowing their statements to be televised here when they were repeated in the course of this experiment. Of course should television of all parliamentary proceedings ever come about it would undoubtedly be the original statement, not its repetition, that would be televised. Therefore there seemed to us to be little merit in including the repetition of statements in our present experiment.

We do not think that this recommendation would be likely to lead to much difficulty. Most of the proceedings of this House used for television would in fact have been recorded, edited, and used in subsequent programmes. Live broadcasts, which are the only times when the problem could arise, would be very rare and therefore the difficulty would arise very rarely, but it might perhaps arise on the first occasion that live televising of the House was scheduled to take place. If such a broadcast should extend over a repeated ministerial statement we might hope that the Commons' Minister concerned would give his consent for it to be televised, but, if not, I am sure that the ingenuity of the broadcasters would be able to fill the gap.

Secondly, we recommend that the broadcasting authorities should have access to Select Committees during the experiment. In effect this means the European Communities Committee and its subcommittees; the Science and Technology Committee and its sub-committees; and the recently appointed Committee on Overseas Trade. It excludes the sittings of the Appeal and Appellate Committees; the sessional committees of the House such as the Offices, Procedure and Privilege Committees; Private Bill Committees; committees sitting in private, and all joint committees. I do not think it is likely that the broadcasters will televise committees very often, but we saw no reason not to allow this facility, and indeed it seemed to us a valuable part of any experiment.

Thirdly, we recommend that the present Sound Broadcasting Committee be enlarged to include appropriate Front-Bench and Cross-Bench representatives, and be given the task of dealing with any administrative problems which may arise and eventually of reporting to the House on the outcome of the experiment. It might at the same time be appropriate to rename the committee and omit the word "sound".

The final point which I should like to mention is that we very much appreciated the offer of the broadcasters to provide the House with a copy tape of the material used in their programmes. This would enable Members of this House who may have missed a particular broadcast to view it on our own video recorder at a later date. In addition, to enable us to assess the editorial process, they have agreed to supply us from time to time with a tape of all the material recorded on a particular occasion as well as the extract used in programmes. Your committee recommend that the cost of clean tapes for these purposes should be borne by public funds. The maximum cost would be £750.

I end by thanking all those who have helped in compiling this report. Without the full co-operation of the BBC and the IBA the experiment would not be possible, and they have indeed been most helpful. We heard evidence from senior members of both organisations who, from the start, impressed us with their anxiety to make the experiment a success.

I should also like to thank my fellow members of the committee. We are few in number but every one has played a very full part in our discussions, and the report was unanimously agreed. Finally, all of us are very grateful to the staff of the Parliament Office and to Black Rod for their help in compiling this report. My Lords, I beg to move.

Moved, That the Report of the Select Committee on Televising the House be agreed to. [1st Report, 1983–84, H.L. 299.]—(Lord Aberdare.)

3.10 p.m.

Lord Chalfont rose to move as an amendment to the above Motion to leave out the words ("agreed to") and insert ("not implemented until such time as the House of Commons decides to hold an experiment in televising its proceedings.")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the effect of this amendment, if it were carried, would be to defer any experimental televising of the proceedings of your Lordships' House until a similar experiment takes place in the other place. I want to spend a few minutes explaining why I think that is important.

In setting out this amendment to the Motion tabled by the Chairman of Committees I am concerned only with what I perceive to be the best interests of your Lordships' House. This perception springs from experience in two areas which I believe are relevant to our debate today. First, I have had the great privilege of being a Member of this House for over 20 years: half of them on the Government Front Bench, half on the Opposition Front Bench and the other half—if that does not make too many!—on the Cross-Benches. Throughout those 20 years my respect and my admiration for the atmosphere, the quality of the debates and the profound constitutional significance of your Lordships' House has grown with each year that I spend here. It is especially appropriate that I should table this amendment from this part of the House because it seems to me that it is not an issue of party or ideology, nor is it a debate about open government. The proceedings of your Lordships' House are already publicly available through the Official Report, through the Press Gallery and through sound broadcasting; so no one is deprived of knowledge of what goes on in your Lordships' House because of the absence of television cameras.

This brings me to my other qualification for intervening in this affair today. Before entering your Lordships' House, and again after leaving the Government in 1970, I have for some years been professionally involved in television and sound broadcasting on both sides of the camera and the microphone as a producer, presenter and writer of television and radio programmes. Like most of your Lordships I also listen to the wireless and watch the television, albeit somewhat selectively. I suspect that to understand fully the potential (both the potential good and the potential danger) of the television medium it helps to have worked in the field professionally.

Any consideration of the kind contained in the report presented by the noble Lord the Chairman of Committees must fall under three headings: the first is the principle of televising the proceedings of your Lordships' House at all; the second—and perhaps even more important—concerns the editorial and technical control of such activities, if it should be decided to embark upon them; and the third concerns the timing of any decision to do so.

Regarding the principle of televising the proceedings of your Lordships' House, I recognise at once, as the noble Lord the Chairman of Committees has said, that the House, by a vote of 74 to 24, arrived at the decision a year ago to embark on an experimental period of televising its proceedings. As the noble Lord has said, the report now under consideration arises from that decision. It would be wrong to take up a great deal of the time of your Lordships' House in attempting to question that decision in principle, although I am bound to say that I, like many of my noble friends in this House, still have grave reservations about the wisdom of agreeing to that principle. This springs partly from the fact that I think it is by now well established that the television camera, unlike the microphone or any other instrument of reporting, is capable of making news as well as reporting it. Certainly it is true in my experience that no one's behaviour remains entirely unchanged when he or she knows that the camera is present and is switched on. This is not a question of conscious histrionics; it is all to do with the mystique which has grown up around the whole world of television.

This House has a very special character, leaving aside its physical character. Its atmosphere is one of self-regulation. The House conducts its affairs in a manner which is partly informal and conversational and partly formal and ceremonial. This is not a place for great drama, impassioned rhetoric or high-flown oratory. Noble Lords address each other, and they do so courteously and usually with restraint. I fear that a great deal of that might change when the television lights are on and the red light on the camera is glowing.

The noble Lord the Chairman of Committees is on record as saying—although he has not said so in your Lordships' House today—that the debate which was televised in 1966 demonstrated that the presence of the cameras made absolutely no difference at all to the conduct of the House. He is on record as saying that in the report which is under discussion. I believe that it would be very unwise to draw any general conclusions from that very brief experience.

However, if your Lordships now decide to agree to the report of the Committee and to sanction an experimental period of television, about which I have the gravest reservations, then we must consider closely the next question which is that of the editorial control of the televised proceedings. Here we must turn to the report itself. In paragraph 12 of the report the Committee recommends that editorial control should be left to the broadcasters themselves, subject to the ultimate control of the House. But in making that recommendation it is significant that the Committee quoted from the report of the 1968 Committee which argued that: the broadcasting organisations are under specific obligations to see that what they report is accurate and free from political partiality".

I repeat the phrase, "free from political partiality" and we should note those words.

I wonder how many of your Lordships on all sides of this House can put their hands on their hearts and say with honesty that they are totally convinced that the broadcasting organisations satisfactorily discharge the obligation of political impartiality. Indeed it would be surprising to me if they were able to do so because all producers, all directors and all presenters have their own political bias and prejudices. That is bound to come through in the programmes that they produce and present. This is not a party matter. It is not a matter of bias of the Left or the Right. It is not a matter of open distortion; but as one who has worked professionally in the world of television I know only too well what can be done with what are called reaction shots or cut-aways—the moving of the camera away from the person who is speaking to the person or the people who are listening. I know what can be done in edited programmes with selective editing and selective camera work. I know what can be done with the subtle use of effects microphones to create certain comments on the proceedings which are going on.

A Member of your Lordships' House in the debate which has been taking place on this matter for some time has said something very significant. "You must either trust the television people or you must not allow them in". I shall not say here that I do not trust the television people; but I think that in deciding which side of that dichotomy we shall come down on we should look at some of their own publicly-expressed attitudes.

I should like to quote from a comment made by someone who was described as a veteran BBC producer and whose remarks were reported in a national newspaper. He was dismissing the United States and Canadian systems of televising congressional proceedings with a fixed camera under parliamentary control as "mind-bendingly boring". This is a very significant comment. If the broadcasters really believe that parliamentary proceedings reported in that way are "mind-bendingly boring", I wonder what they intend to do to make them less so.

In this context, Miss Margaret Douglas, the very able chief assistant to the Director-General of the BBC, whose evidence figures very prominently in the committee's report, is reported also in the same national newspaper as saying: If we do a cutaway shot,"— which is the sort of thing I was referring to a moment ago, when you switch the camera shot from the speaker to the audience— it will be for a genuine reason". What genuine reason, I wonder? Will it be an Opposition spokesman yawning at a Government speech; a Member of your Lordships' House perhaps walking out of the Chamber in the middle of a debate? Will it be the empty Benches of this Chamber late at night? All these things, my Lords, can be made, without any words, into eloquent political comments.

Are we really in your Lordships' House prepared to leave that kind of decision entirely to a television producer or a television director? I can certainly think of many ways of making the House of Lords look exciting on television. I shall not perhaps rehearse them all now. My own view is that personally I would infinitely prefer to be a Member of a House that was mind-bendingly boring, if that is how it is really seen, than to be in one which is turned into an extension of political show business. In short, my Lords, if we are really to have the proceedings of your Lordships' House televised, even for an experimental period, then I am convinced that your Lordships should continue to have a substantial, indeed, a decisive, voice in the way in which the cameras are used and the way in which the proceedings are edited and transmitted.

Some kind of parliamentary television unit for this purpose would, according to the initial memorandum submitted by the BBC and set out in the committee's report, raise grave questions of editorial responsibility and freedom to report". That is a fair comment by the BBC, but I am bound to say that in my view any other system would raise equally grave questions concerning the reputation and responsibilities of this House. And it is no good, in my view, simply saying that all this will become clear in the course of the experiment. I have no doubt that in the course of the six months' experiment there will be the most impeccable exercise of editorial responsibility by the broadcasting authorities. I am not entirely conviced that this would necessarily be any guarantee for a permanent arrangement.

My final point concerns the crucial question of timing. It seems to me remarkable that we should be contemplating an experimental period of television in your Lordships' House when no such step appears to be contemplated in another place. All this may seem to be very forward looking, modern minded and imaginative. But it seems to me that this is one area in which your Lordships might with profit await upon the decision of another place. I can visualise all manner of problems and frictions that might arise if your Lordships' House is available to be seen on television by the general public while the proceedings of the elected House are not.

But there is something which puzzles me even more; and that is this. What would your Lordships' House gain by embarking upon this step? What is it that we are seeking? Are we seeking more publicity for your Lordships' House? If so, I very much doubt the wisdom of such a pursuit. My Lords, this is one of the most serious and influential legislative and debating chambers in the world. Once the television cameras are in place, it will not always be the thoughtful speech of someone expert in his field which will be selected for the televised extract of our proceedings; it will quite often be the speaker with an eye for a dramatic effect or of what makes news in the eyes of the television programme makers.

I appreciate the amount of work and the degree of diligence and application which has gone into the report of the committee which is the subject of the Motion tabled by the noble Lord the Chairman of Committees. But that report, in itself, raises all manner of problems which lead me to conclude that we should not be too anxious to rush into this experiment. According to the report, for example, on the occasions on which the House is being televised there will have to be at least four manned cameras in this Chamber—and the noble Lord the Chairman of Committees has referred to the positions of those cameras. Let us remember that those will be television cameras, that they will be manned and that those who man them will have to be changed every one-and-a-half or two hours of the televised proceedings.

There will have to be at least four times as much light in this Chamber as there normally is—and, my Lords, you can see for yourselves now the effect of that. And this, I must tell your Lordships, is not the full effect, the full capacity, of these lights. They have now been placed at the position at which the televising authorities say that below this they cannot go. They also say that even with the lights at this intensity, the pictures will not be as good as they would expect.

As the committee concedes in this report, all this—the lights, the cameras—will be unacceptable as a permanent installation. I have to say, my Lords, that it seems to me equally unacceptable as an experimental installation.

Then, my Lords, finally, there is the matter of cost. The relatively low cost of this experiment would be largely met by the broadcasting authorities, but I think it logical to assume that the aim of this experimental period is to pave the way for a permanent installation. Otherwise, I see no point in it at all and we need hardly even be discussing it. A permanent installation would be much more expensive. According to the report, it would cost as much as £3.5 million to install, and I understand from the report that the broadcasting authorities will look to the Government for a substantial proportion of that sum. I have to say that I doubt very much whether any Government will be prepared to provide that sum for permanent televising of the House of Lords unless there is also television in the other place.

We are contemplating a step which, even if the money is forthcoming to implement it, may have a profound and irreversible effect upon the whole nature, tone, character and appearance of the proceedings in your Lordships' House. I find this especially unpalatable in the light of the comment of one well-informed television correspondent—again, in a national newspaper—who wrote: No-one, including the most enthusiastic pro-TV Peers, pretends that putting the Lords on to the nation's screens can be anything but a dry run for televising the Commons".

I do not see why we in your Lordships' House should be the guinea pigs in this fashionable experiment in mass communications. Let us first of all see whether the elected Chamber will agree to an experimental period of television and, if it does, whether then it will have the success that its proponents claim for it. If it does, then I, for one, will be very happy to concede the case and go ahead with the experiment.

But in the meantime, I believe that we need time to examine much more closely such important questions as editorial control and the cost to the Exchequer, as well as the effect on the atmosphere and character of your Lordships' House—so evident today—of the experimental arrangements set out in the report. My Lords, I beg to move.

Moved as an amendment to the above Motion to leave out the words ("agreed to") and insert ("not implemented until such time as the House of Commons decides to hold an experiment in televising its proceedings.")—(Lord Chalfont.)

The Deputy Speaker (The Earl of Listowel)

The original Question was, That the report of the Select Committee on televising the House be agreed to; since when an amendment has been moved by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, in the terms set out on the Order Paper. The Question I now therefore have to put is that this amendment be agreed to?

3.30 p.m.

Lord Home of the Hirsel

My Lords, if I may respond at once to the substance of the amendment by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, which poses the questions (which I think are near constitutional) as to whether one House of Parliament should be televised before the other or whether one should be televised separately from the other or without the other, my answer to that immediately is, no. I think that that would be unthinkable. So in this debate I am concerned with the experiment in television in this House and I do not intend therefore to register my vote on any amendment. But at a later date, should we have to take a final decision on this matter, I should vote for the noble Lord's amendment without question.

Referring to the Motion moved by my noble friend the Chairman of Committees, who largely dealt with the mechanics of television—the light and the heat—I think I have recovered from the initial shock of the light and I shall be in a better position, as will other noble Lords, to judge that heat (which is going to be a very important question) about 10 o'clock tonight. So, my Lords, I shall not deal any more with that.

With the newspapers and sound broadcasting admitted already to the Houses of Parliament, I cannot argue in principle that televison should be excluded and that this experiment should not be made. The screen is undeniably one of the main channels of communication with the public and it can certainly be argued that it would be advantageous for them to see their parliamentary institutions at work. The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, asked: What is our aim if we support this experiment? It is to see whether the public of this country can be enabled to see their parliamentary institutions at work; and there could be advantage in that. I can therefore concede the case for this experiment. I recognise of course that this six months' trial run—"a dry run" I believe it is sometimes called—can be represented as the thin end of a permanent wedge. I confess that I always find the thin-end-of-the-wedge argument rather weak, and I reject it in the case of the experiment in this House, for two reasons.

Your Lordships will certainly insist that the criterion applied to any programme will be that it should accurately represent the proceedings of this House in action. My second reason for supporting this experiment is that your Lordships' judgment at the end of the day will quite clearly be as objective as it will be at any time. There will always be objectivity applied. We are not concerned here with benefit to the television companies, but we are concerned with securing a true picture of Parliament, through which people may be able better to appreciate the value of their democratic institutions. That is why I support this trial, and I am sure that your Lordships will not be "bounced" into making a decision against your better judgment and that as a result of the experiment we shall be better informed.

There are a number of important aspects to the matter, on some of which the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, has already touched and on which it is necessary to be clear before a final decision can be taken as to whether this House should be televised or as to whether Parliament should be televised or not. In particular, the content of the programmes and the timing given to them must be a matter for the decision of this House.

However, it is necessary to recognise now that the interests of the television companies and the interests of Members of this House are not necessarily the same. Instinctively, the television operator's eye is caught by the colourful and the dramatic, and it is not primarily the business of Parliament to provide either. Therefore I think we have to approach this matter with great care. The colour and drama are incidental to this Chamber, rather than an integral part of our proceedings.

There is one example which strikes me from another place and from which I think we might draw a lesson. The concentration of the sound broadcasts on the periods of Prime Minister's Questions I think was a mistake, for which the reputation of another place has paid a price. Any parliamentarian with experience knows that in recent years that particular period of Prime Minister's Questions has become a sort of trick exercise. It has turned into a noisy, mock-gladiatorial, contest on the model of Tweedledum and Tweedledee; and it would be wrong to concentrate on the good and to ignore the bad. The impression that the House of Commons is a bear garden is of course a false impression of a hard-working place, but the broadcasting of, and the emphasis on, a particular period of Questions has not added to the prestige of Parliament, and I think that we must be aware of that.

It will be essential, too, that from the start of this trial complete control by the House of the matters selected for television must be established—the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, was absolutely right to put his finger on that—and the rules must be understood, accepted and operated by the television authorities and there must be constant vigilance on the part of whatever machinery your Lordships may set up to supervise these matters. The mechanisms for decision will be of great importance, and I hope we may hear about this towards the end of the debate.

One of the problems presented by television is that when complicated and weighty affairs have to be confined to a strict timetable, the result is almost inevitably superficial. It is bound to be; and I have a good many reservations about editing. It is more difficult, I think, to edit a sound programme because the actual pace of the speaker has to be taken. One can imagine a Foreign Secretary in another place deploying a complicated argument on international policy. It would be more difficult, I think, for television to edit that satisfactorily than it is for sound.

The nearest parallels in this country for television which occur for me are the party conferences. There I think that your Lordships will probably, as I have done, mark the contrast between the satisfactory coverage during the conference hours and the superficial and exasperatingly inadequate snippets that are given when it comes to the news and at times of peak viewing. It may very well be that if this House is televised or another place is televised, we may have to think of two different programmes: one longer and one shorter.

I confess I have felt for a very long time that the only really satisfying way to televise Parliament would be to devote a whole channel to it from the start of the Session to the end. That is done, for example, in the United Nations Assembly, and people of the city of New York look in; I have done so myself quite often when I have been out there. It is—leave out the content—good and instructive viewing. If there was a chance that a channel would be devoted to the televising of Parliament, then I would cheerfully drop all this and wait for it. I hope that when my noble friend replies it may be possible perhaps to compare the cost of this experiment (which the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, put at £3 million, if I remember aright) with the cost that would be involved if we were to set aside a channel for the televising of Parliament. Perhaps some of the technicalities of that would be interesting. It would avoid almost all—in fact, all—the troubles of editing and many of the other troubles, too.

Finally, we have to ask whether this trial run could possibly prejudice a decision for or against television in another place. I cannot see that it would do so. Indeed, it might assist them to decide, for we should no longer be arguing in the dark. Therefore I can vote for this experiment, but I retain a completely open mind as to my final verdict should the big question of the televising of Parliament ultimately come along.