Mid Worcestershire MP Nigel Huddleston has called for Parliament to look at changing the ban on broadcasters using House of Commons footage for comedic or satirical purposes.
During the first set of Business Questions answered by the new Leader of the House of Commons, Mel Stride MP, Mr Huddleston asked whether the rules, agreed by broadcasters and Parliament in 1989, could be updated to reflect advances in the media and digital technology.
When the cameras were first allowed into the House of Commons, the use of the footage was restricted so that recorded could be used for news, documentary and ‘magazine’ programming, but not for comedy or satirical programmes such as ‘Have I got News for You’.
Mr Huddleston raised the fact that many clips of the more light-hearted and funny moments in the House of Commons debates are readily available on social media platforms and YouTube. He believes that rather than bringing the House into disrepute or being ‘undignified’ these moments actually show MPs in a better, more human light. In his question Mr Huddleston pointed out to the speaker that many of the more light-hearted moments in the House of Commons available online show the Speaker, John Bercow, himself responding to or participating in a bit of light-hearted banter in the Commons.
A number of MPs have raised similar matters in Parliament, especially as TV programming has become more fluid and the definitions of satirical and light-entertainment shows have changed in recent years.
Responding to Mr Huddleston, Mr Stride acknowledged there would be plenty of moments in the chamber that broadcasters and producers might wish to use for satirical purposes, and that Mr Huddleston’s idea could be debated on in Parliament.
After the exchange, Mr Huddleston said: “A lot has changed in the thirty years since it was agreed that Parliamentary footage could not be used for light-entertainment or satirical purposes. Video clips can now go viral online in a matter of seconds, and I believe relaxing these rules will enable footage to be shared more widely on broadcast television that show MPs in a more normal and human light! I don’t believe that sharing this footage more widely would be undignified, but it would show to our constituents that while we take our roles and our responsibilities very seriously, we don’t take ourselves too seriously. When people interact with each other in any workplace there are light-hearted moments every day and Parliament is no different from an office or a shop in that regard. If it’s being recorded, why hide it?”