§ Mr. Mawby
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I apologise to you for the very short notice of this matter, but it is less than an hour since I received my last letter from the Leader of the House in relation to it.
Right hon. and hon. Members will have seen the television cameras present in the Chamber at the State Opening of Parliament. Since the opening of Parliament I have had continual correspondence with the Leader of the House on whether it was right or wrong for those cameras to appear without a motion having been put before the House. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House has been very courteous to me and has 468 replied pointing out that he thought that there were a number of precedents—in 1966, 1970 and 1974—for the presence of cameras on a special occasion. I pointed out to the right hon. Gentleman that since those precedents the House has taken a decision, by a majority vote, that we should not even have an experiment in televising the proceedings of this Chamber. I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether this did not put out of court the precedents which he quoted. In his letter to me today he disagrees with me, and he has every right so to do.
I ask, Mr. Speaker, whether we can have protection of the rights of Back Benchers. The right hon. Gentleman quite properly points out that it was as a result of contact between the usual channels that it was agreed that these cameras should be present. As I and all other Back Benchers are not privy to the usual channels, may we ask for your protection in the future?
I have no doubt that, had a motion been put on the Order Paper for this special occasion, the House would have passed it without a Division. But I believe that it is wrong that the usual channels, the Leader of the House or anyone else should take advantage of Back Benchers who have solemnly gone into the Division Lobbies and voted by a majority for a motion that the proceedings of this House should not be televised in any circumstances.
§ Mr. Speaker
I am very much obliged to the hon. Gentleman for the way in which he has presented his point of order. I should like to think about it. I shall comment on it tomorrow.