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Proceedings (Sound Coverage)

Volume 84: debated on Monday 28 October 1985

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asked the Lord Seal if there are any plans to extend to Members' offices facilities for live sound coverage of the proceedings of the House.

I understand that the Select Committee on Sound Broadcasting is undertaking a study of the feasibility and cost of such facilities with a view to making recommendations to the Services Committee in due course, but the introduction of any such scheme would, of course, require the authority of the House.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Select Committee on Sound Broadcasting has already conducted a survey and that only 398 Members favoured such live sound coverage? In the interests of keeping the House active, will my right hon. Friend disregard that survey in view of the temptation for hon. Members not to turn up in the Chamber at all if everything is broadcast to their offices? Does my right hon. Friend agree that the Chamber is empty enough already?

My hon. Friend makes the very fair point that in this, as in so many other matters, we must have regard to the impact on attendance in the Chamber. I must point out to him, however, that as the matter is now before the Services Committee it would be inappropriate for me to make any observations or draw any conclusions until I have had the benefit of the Services Committee report.

I regret any disagreement with my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Bruinvels), but is my right hon. Friend aware that, although some of our parliamentary colleagues may be less than irresistible in their contributions, many of us who spend a fair part of the day at our desks might appreciate the opportunity to tune in from time to time to see how the proceedings are going?

That is an interesting view of the nature of the parliamentary process, but I must put it firmly on record that whatever we do we must do our utmost to maintain the vitality of this Chamber as the very heart of Parliament.