Minister explains why Gordon Brown made YouTube video

May 8, 2009 at 5:07 pm Leave a comment

A junior minister has told the House of Lords that the Prime Minister’s appearance on YouTube to make an annoucement about changes to expenses for MPs was an “exceptional circumstance.”

Lord Davies of Oldham was responding to a report from the Lords Communications Committee on Government Communications.

During the debate Gordon Brown was criticised for making an announcement online instead of to the House of Commons.

“The Government are enjoined to use every means of communication,” Lord Davies, Government Deputy Chief Whip, told peers.

“When the Prime Minister, for the first time, used this form of communication, he was criticised for his performance, for having used it and because it was not a Ministerial Statement.

“Let me make it clear: this YouTube broadcast was preceded by a Written Ministerial Statement to which Members of Parliament had access and which contained the information that was put out on YouTube.

“Why did the Prime Minister act in this way? This was an exceptional circumstance.

“The House of Commons was going to deliberate on Motions before it about Members’ expenses, which we know has been just about the most inflammatory issue as regards the general public and its relationship to Parliament in recent months.

“It has cost us all dear in terms of reputation and, of course, Members of Parliament are greatly anxious about it.

“Therefore, there was a necessity for immediate action and a need for communication to Members of Parliament and to the wider public that action would be taken.”

Lord Fowler, a former Conservative Cabinet minister and chair of the committee, complimented Lord Davies on his “noble job” on the “YouTube defence.”

“He is one of the very few Ministers who have attempted a defence of the YouTube question,” he said.

“I thought he protested a bit too much; he said the Prime Minister made a Written Ministerial Statement beforehand.

“That was very good of him, but it does not actually mean any more questioning than he would get on YouTube.

“I think the Prime Minister made a mistake; he should have said it openly to Parliament.

“The question of parliamentary expenses seems to me to be absolutely a matter of concern for Parliament itself; that was the proper way to do it.

“I do not in any way damn YouTube, but I do say that it should be used after a proper oral Statement has been made.”

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Entry filed under: Committees, Lords. Tags: , , , , , .

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