Politics.co.uk Blog

Friday, 26 November 2010

MPs' committee privacy breach won't rock Westminster to its foundations

Select committees are an important part of our democracy. Their grilling of ministers is often hailed as one of the best ways in which MPs do their job of holding the executive to account.

You'd think, given their prominence, that parliamentary journalists would be carefully monitoring their sessions. Gripped to their television screens. Or, now that these things are streamed online, their web browsers.

An accidental broadcasting of a 15-minute private session proves that this is not the case.

Keith Vaz's home affairs committee didn't realise as they discussed an evidence session which has just concluded that their closed-door remarks were being streamed live on the web.

Yet, so it appears, just one journalist noticed.

Well done to the Press Association hack for clinging on and achieving what all journalists crave: the chance to be a fly on the wall. Doubtless if they had said something sensational we would have had a great story. As it is, Vaz and co are thoroughly relieved the session's secrets will not become public.

"I am most grateful that even though they had this information, PA is choosing to respect parliament in this manner," Vaz said.

We shall draw our own conclusions. That the committees don't get as much attention as they perhaps should is... well, it might be one of them...

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