Goodman prods Commons along the road to reform

Goodman: suggested changes.

Journalists are to be granted access to official reports of MPs’ speeches on the same day they are made, to encourage them to report Parliament.

At the moment they have to wait until the following day, when Hansard is published and is made available on the internet.

Now, in a breakthrough for journalism, the House of Commons is expected to make Hansard available on the internet at the same time as it is sent to the printer.

Since reports are sent to the printer on a three-hour rolling deadline, this will mean that they will be easily accessible for newspaper and broadcasting journalists.

The Commons’ modernisation committee has recommended the change – which the House is expected to accept – after it had been suggested by Elinor Goodman, political editor of Channel 4 News.

She told the committee, headed by Commons Leader Peter Hain, that it would make journalists’ lives a lot easier if Hansard could be made available “within an hour or two” of speeches being made.

In another move to help journalists, the committee has also recommended that they should be allowed to take their laptop computers into the Press Gallery.

The House of Commons is also to have a central press office for the first time, to co-ordinate links with the media and to promote the work of Parliament George Pascoe-Watson, deputy political editor of the Sun, told the committee that on the day he gave evidence he had counted 40 different press notices from different parts of the House in the Parliamentary Press Gallery.

The committee noted that following the disappearance of parliamentary pages in newspapers, media coverage of Parliament had declined.

“The house can no longer expect to receive a certain amount of media coverage as of right,” the committee said.

“Parliamentary proceedings must now compete with other potential news stories for coverage.

“It is therefore important for the House to take a more organised, professional and strategic approach to its relations with the media.”

By David Rose

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