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I observed the Cambridgeshire County Council allowances debate, and filmed it, I've put a selection of the speeches on YouTube: I've also written about the subject:
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I regularly mention this ban on the public taking notes in the commons "strangers' gallery" when writing about openness and transparency. When I experienced the ban myself it appeared the security staff were not keen on people having anything in their hands which they could throw at the MPs below. I would have thought this potential problem ought now have been solved by the plastic screen and that there is no justification for the ban continuing. I would like to see Parliament's video streams improved. Parliament has been offering, on occasion, the live stream via a "Beta smoothing player" which allows you to pause rewind and fast-forward the live stream. I think lobbying Parliament, asking them to consistently provide that service would be of more practical help to independent individuals who write about what's going on in Parliament than allowing pens in the public gallery. Also not all committee meetings are covered on video, some are audio only, and it is much harder to follow what is going on and who is speaking without the images. Hopefully the inexplicable and ridiculous ban on taking notes can be used to draw attention to the other problems. Why are individuals there to report on proceedings, not merely as tourists, not allowed in the press-gallery in any case? -- Richard Taylor Cambridge
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Nov 13, 2010