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Broadcasting Of Debates

Volume 978: debated on Monday 11 February 1980

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On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. On Friday a small contingent of the great unwashed infiltrated the Gallery of this Chamber. Like other right hon. and hon. Members, I neither know nor care about the purpose of that intrusion. Suffice it to say that the persistent services of blind men from Bedlam would be required before there was any likelihood that those concerned had any personal interest in the subject of the debate.

Hon. Members are worried not so much about the activities, dismal though they were, as about the response by the broadcasting media. Within hours the sub-human noises and caterwauling that interrupted the speech being made by my hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Morrison) were relayed to every television and radio in the land. Such far-reaching and quick-acting publicity must give encouragement to any group of fanatics prepared to abuse the procedures of the House for their own ill-conceived and perverted purposes. The great bulk of marches and demonstrations—

Order. The hon. Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) must make a point of order on which he wishes me to rule.

If such interruptions are relayed throughout the media other people will be encouraged to make similar interruptions. That would be detrimental to the dignity of the House. It is a grave matter and it may eventually be detrimental to the safety of hon. Members. After all, shouts and screams are far more diverting to the public than the catcalls and caterwauls that we put up with on Friday. I would be grateful if you, Mr. Speaker, could explain how we can prevent the broadcasting media from usurping their privileges in future.

I understand the hon. Gentleman's feeling. He should refer this issue to the Select Committee on Sound Broadcasting, which the House set up, so that it can consider what happened. We must be jealous of the way in which we are reported. Broadcasting is an extraneous influence in our Chamber and we all have a right to be concerned about the way in which it is operated. I did not hear the broadcast.