Journalists condemned for ignoring “Commons at its best”

June 21, 2009 at 2:55 pm Leave a comment

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A senior Tory MP has castigated journalists for not properly covering the business of the House of Commons.

Cheryl Gillan, the Shadow Welsh Secretary, was speaking during the third reading of her Autism Bill, which was approved.

The bill is one of one a handful of private member’s bills per session that receive government backing and has a chance of becoming law.

There has been cross-party support for the legislation, which requires the Secretary of State for Health to publish an adult autism strategy and issue associated statutory guidance for local authorities and NHS bodies.

“When we are trying to do something that will affect so many people’s lives and that shows the House of Commons at its best, I think it is a shame that there are no hordes of journalists in the Press Gallery here to see what the House really does for this country,” Mrs Gillan said.

“I see a sole, single, lonely journalist up there, perhaps reporting on these matters.

“He is to be congratulated, and it is a great shame that more people outside the House do not concentrate on the good that we do as a group in it rather than on the subjects covered in newspapers today.”

Later in the debate her Tory colleague John Bercow praised Mrs Gillan for her cross-party approach to the bill.

“However, there are always cynics who do not necessarily think that it is a good idea,” he said.

“It makes sense and we have benefited from it.

“As far as the media are concerned, and perhaps I can conclude on this point, I think it was the late Enoch Powell who said that politicians complaining about the media are like sailors complaining about the sea—it is a completely pointless and fruitless activity.

“Doubtless that is the case, but it is sad that when we work together in a concerted, principled and effective fashion it gets no attention or coverage.

“The media are just not interested. What a shame. They ought to be. We have done the right thing.”

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