Media

Journalists could lose parliamentary passes if they report government announcements prematurely

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By The Drum Team | Staff Writer

June 23, 2011 | 3 min read

Senior MP Chris Bryant has called for journalists who report government announcements before a minister has made a statement to the House of Commons to have their parliamentary passes removed.

The Labour MP said to Commons Speaker John Bercow as a point of order: "The Government is regularly now briefing the press before briefing the House of Commons."

"I realise it is very difficult for you to exercise any direct powers in relation to the Government, but there is not just the question of supply, there is also the question of demand here.

"Might I suggest that any journalist you find to write an article which says 'tomorrow the Government will announce that ...' has their pass withdrawn so they can't work in this House any longer."

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Bercow warned that retaliatory action for this plan could mean that time of business Commons being lost.

He added: "I think it is extremely important that the responsibility of Government to explain and answer first to Parliament is accepted and that effect is given to it.

"It would be very unfortunate if a regular pattern were to develop of the kind about which you have been complaining.

"If, in extremis, this were to continue to happen and as a consequence the Government's own business were to be damaged or lost as a result of what might be described as retaliatory action, that would of course be very unfortunate."

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