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8 December  
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1983: Television cameras allowed into Lords
The House of Lords has voted in favour of allowing cameras to broadcast live discussions from its chamber.

The motion by Lord Soames, who said he wants the public to see the Lords "warts and all", won an overwhelming majority.

Peers voted 74 in favour with 24 against the motion.

The enthusiastic mood for televising debates in the Lords will put considerable pressure on the House of Commons to follow suit.

Up until now it has resisted suggestions to do so.

'Important decision'

A similar ballot in the Commons last month carried only five votes and only half the House took part.

Lord Soames said it was an important decision particularly against the backdrop of calls to abolish or reform the Lords.

He said cameras would help engage the public in Parliament's "second chamber".

Speaking to the BBC, Lord Soames said: "People know very little about what goes on in it [the Lords].

"I think it is a very good debating chamber. Some debates are to a very high standard and I think those better debates could well be shown on TV for a profit."

Televising parliamentary debates would offer the British public a fresh view into the world of politics.

Until now, it has only caught a brief glimpse of the corridors of power during the state opening of Parliament.

But in other parts of the world, such as the United States, political debates between leaders are shown.

A committee of peers will now meet with broadcasting officials to arrange a trial period of televising Lords' debates.

Cameras were allowed into the Lords in 1968 during a three day closed circuit television trial - but nothing came of the experiment.

Debates in the House of Commons have been broadcast on radio for more than five years.

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Watch/Listen
Inside House of Lords
Lords' broadcasts will be piloted first

Lords televised 15-years ago in a three day experiment


In Context
MPs continued to block moves to televise the House of Commons' debates fearing politicians might play up to the cameras and bring the House into disrepute.

The Commons had been debating the wisdom of letting the cameras in for 20 years before finally taking the plunge in November 1989.

The success of broadcasting from the House of Lords did not however prevent reform of the "upper house".

It had 1,144 members until 1999, when 666 hereditaries lost their sitting and voting rights, under a process of reform introduced by the Labour government.

Stories From 8 Dec


 
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