Commons committee webcasts

Major sessions of House of Commons committees should be broadcast on the Web, according to leader of the Commons Robin Cook.

Major sessions of House of Commons committees should be broadcast on the Web, according to leader of the Commons Robin Cook.

Putting the all-party groups' proceedings online was one of the recommendations put forward as part of an initiative to boost the bodies' influence and standing with the general public.

Speaking as chairman of the Modernisation Committee, Cook outlined new powers and funding that will be used to enable the all-party groups - renamed "scrutiny committees" - to hold the Government to account and examine draft legislation.

He said scrutiny committees should "take full advantage of new technology to communicate with the public who elect us'', and recommended that a pilot webcasting project should be extended to all the major committees. This would "enable any citizen with access to the Internet to listen to live proceedings and hear the evidence brought before committees", Cook added.

"This may not, except on rare occasions, be a matter of mass interest, but it is an important service for non-governmental organisations, lobby groups and commercial organisations, many of which will have an interest in proceedings," said Cook. "We hope it will one day become the norm for public hearings of select committees to be broadcast via the Internet in this way.''

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