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Lord Haskel: My Lords, with the leave of the House, I beg to move the Motion standing in the name of my noble friend Lady Hollis of Heigham on the Order Paper. I should like to say a few words concerning the difference between this order of procedure and that used for the Committee stage of the Bill.
Noble Lords will recall that the order in Committee was necessarily complex. We arranged it so that clauses dealing with the same subjects could be considered together. However, we believe that such re-ordering is not essential for the Report stage. We hope that sensible grouping of amendments will enable the House to debate a wide variety of subjects covered by the Bill in a logical order. Our proposed order of consideration, therefore, is to deal with amendments as they occur in clauses taken in numerical order. The only changes will be in the schedules. They will be taken alongside the clauses to which they refer.
Clauses 1 to 7, Schedule 1, Clauses 8 to 12, Schedules 2 and 3, Clauses 13 and 14, Schedule 4, Clauses 15 and 16, Schedule 5, Clauses 17 to 80, Schedule 6, Clauses 81 to 83, Schedules 7 and 8, Clause 84.--(Lord Haskel.)
Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, I should like to make reference to a few items in the report. The first is item No. 1, headed "Filming and Broadcasting in the House". It is a particularly odd coincidence that this should arise in the week when the new schedules of the BBC come into operation--as regards this House, I believe they will come into operation after the Recess--which impinge upon the reporting of "Today in Parliament" and "Yesterday in Parliament". A large section of the public will be denied the reports that they have received in the past. There will be a halving of the audience for our proceedings and the proceedings of the House of Commons.
That will be the case in spite of objections and recommendations made by the House of Commons and, I believe, by this House that the arrangements we have had hitherto should continue because they have proved effective and popular. I believe that the new arrangements, which will not suit many people, are not only a slap in the face for Parliament itself, which will not be as well reported and whose views have been ignored, but also a slap in the face for those staff who over a long period of time have made "Today in
I believe that the BBC is treating Parliament, perhaps not with contempt but with near contempt. The proposal for a BBC documentary is not per se objectionable to me. If it were properly done I would welcome it, as I think would all Members of the House. But we want it properly done. We want the programme to show the real and essential role of the House in the work of Parliament and government, and the effort which is put in by all of your Lordships--virtually free of charge, if I may say so--with great dedication.
I make that point because, like other noble Lords, I have a long memory. I remember the awful programme made by Channel 4--a parody of the work of this House which is well respected throughout the country. The programme sought to mock the institution and its Members. I expect a better programme from the BBC than from Channel 4, but I hope that the Chairman of Committees will ensure that the programme reveals the real work of the House of Lords and its value to the community it serves.
Lord Bruce of Donington: My Lords, I wish to refer to the same item as my noble friend Lord Stoddart. Under the heading "Filming and Broadcasting in the House" I observe that the whole matter is subject,
The Chairman of Committees: My Lords, I shall respond first to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart of Swindon, and also mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Monkswell, as regards access for MEPs. I cannot give the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, a definitive reply on the question of whether there are reciprocal arrangements. However, I shall certainly inquire into the matter and let him know.
The noble Lords, Lord Stoddart of Swindon and Lord Bruce of Donington, asked about the filming. Your Lordships' committees which dealt with this matter--that is to say, the Administration and Works Sub-Committee and the Offices Committee--were conscious of the problems which arose over the Channel 4 documentary, "Cutting Edge", and the regrettable way in which that programme dealt with your Lordships' House. I believe that it caused considerable offence in all parts of your Lordships' House at the time. Being conscious of what happened then, your Lordships' committees were anxious to avoid any repetition.
As regards the invitation to BBC News and Current Affairs to undertake the documentary, we have nothing to do with the choice in that regard as that is a matter for the BBC; it is not, of course, commissioned by your Lordships' House. However, the BBC certainly appears to your Lordships' committees to have approached the matter in a responsible and serious way and with the intention of properly covering your Lordships' House. That is easy to say, but we need to make certain of it.
It is for that reason that your Lordships' committees decided that a series of guidelines should be agreed between any broadcasting organisation--the BBC in this case--and your Lordships' committees to ensure that the programme is carried out properly. Those guidelines are very strict. A supervisory group has been set up consisting of the Chief Whips of your Lordships' House--Government, Opposition and Liberal Democrat--and a representative of the Convenor of the Cross-Bench Peers. I too sit on that group. We are assisted by the Clerk of the Parliaments, by Black Rod, by your Lordships' Senior Information Officer, Mrs. Mary Morgan, and by David Batt, the Clerk to the two committees I have mentioned. It is the view of your Lordships' committees that, if any broadcasting organisation will not sign up to the strict guidelines laid down, facilities should not be granted.
The broadcasting producer and his or her assistants will be escorted around the House of Lords part of the Palace of Westminster by Mr. David Batt. They will be accompanied by an officer of the House at all times. Mrs. Mary Morgan will herself take a close interest in the matter. I hope that that provides your Lordships with some reassurance. All who have been involved in these considerations believe that what is proposed is absolutely necessary to make sure that this time we are not let down.
The noble Lord, Lord Stoddart of Swindon, mentioned the question of comparative costs as between the new European parliamentary building and the House of Lords. That point is not referred to in the report and so, strictly speaking, I suppose I should not reply to it. However, since the matter has been raised and this may be the only opportunity for some time to refer to it, I sense that your Lordships would wish to give me a moment's indulgence to reply to the noble Lord.
The noble Lord was referring, of course, to the residence of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor. I sympathise very much with what he said. I hold no brief for the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, nor indeed for any other Minister, nor, for that matter, for any Member of the Front Benches in your Lordships' House or for the Convenor of the Cross-Bench Peers, of whose flock I am one, at least for the time being while serving your Lordships. However, I am bound to say that I believe that the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack has come in for a good deal of unfair and at times grotesque criticism from various quarters. In fact, I get the impression from a good many of the reports which I have read or heard that it was he who made the decisions about the refurbishment. Your Lordships well know that that is not the case. The decisions were made by the committees of your Lordships' House and were recommended to your Lordships on 30th July last year. As a member of those committees--in fact I chair the two that I have mentioned--I have begun to resent the fact that the credit has gone, not to the committees, but to the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack.
The refurbishment has been splendidly done; I inspected it on behalf of your Lordships on Monday last. A criticism was raised that it was all being done in one go, and it was said in some reports that it was the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack who required that. That is not so. As a matter of fact, he was willing to have it done in stages. I must confess to your Lordships that it was I who recommended to your Lordships' committees--a recommendation subsequently endorsed by your Lordships--that the
With regard to costs, in answer to the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart of Swindon, perhaps I may say the following, which I wish your Lordships to be the first to hear. Although I cannot give a final figure, the overall cost of the refurbishment will be below the original estimate recommended to your Lordships on 30th July last year.
Perhaps I may make a final point with regard to the paintings. I do not know why the media have taken so long to get round to the question of paintings and other works of art in the residence of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor. I felt privileged, with his approval, to make the announcement about the paintings to your Lordships on 30th July last year. Why it has taken the media almost half a year to latch on to that I simply do not know. When I was a broadcasting journalist at the BBC between 1957 and 1964 we took pride in getting our news out fast--commensurate with accuracy. It is not as it was in my day!
I believe that that is all I have to say. I feel much better now. To put it another way, as the late Mr. Gillie Potter said when I was debating with him in the University of London Union in 1954 and misguidedly interrupted his speech rather vigorously, "Well, that's better out than in". I beg to move.
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