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Thursday, October 16, 2003

Is that a camera I see?

The Assembly's House Committee held its first meeting in public today. This has come about after pressure from a number of people, including myself. This Committee deals with the day to day running of the Assembly, including catering, building issues and IT. My only doubt in advocating open meetings has been that perhaps it might be too dull for anybody to consider watching. Certainly, the agenda today was very sanitised. The Committee had only agreed to one open meeting a year if they could be assured that the matters discussed were not too "sensitive". The most interesting moment came at the end when we discussed Plenary Session Question Time for the House Committee. Oral questions are allowed but members are discouraged from tabling them due to previous embarrassments about time being taken up discussing the positioning of doors to the toilets amongst others. Nevertheless, some were tabled for yesterday and duly answered. The Conservative Member on the Committee, William Graham, was anxious to restore party discipline on this matter. He was, however, sensitive to the bad publicity that such a point could engender - "AM tries to stifle questions" etc. So before raising the issue he made sure that there were no members of the public present. He completely forget that proceedings were being televised!

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