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Lobby briefings should be televised say peers

Downing Street lobby briefings should be televised in order to improve the “transparency” of the political process, a House of Lords committee recommended today.

Around 176 journalists at Westminster, including 20-30 from the regional press, have access to the daily briefings with the Prime Minister’s spokesman at No 10.

The Lords’ communications committee has been carrying out an inquiry into whether the government has delivered on its pledges to improve communications in the wake of an earlier critical report in 2004.

The latest report, published today, describes the lobby system as a “barrier to openness.”

It recommends that the morning briefings held should be transmitted live on the Number 10 website with footage made available to broadcasters.

The committee says broadcasting the briefings would “help dispel continuing myths about the lobby and the sense of secrecy that surrounds it.”

Some print journalists in the past have opposed the introduction of televised briefings for fear they would become dominated by “showboating” broadcasters, as the Prime Minister’s televised press conferences have been.

Today’s report also calls on Gordon Brown to ensure ministers and their special advisers abide by the Ministerial Code and make major policy announcements first to Parliament rather than the media.