Lobby journalism

The growth of 'Lobby' journalism (the reporting of stories unrelated to parliamentary proceedings) meant that newspapers gradually reduced the amount of coverage given to debates. This new style of parliamentary coverage sometimes had disastrous consequences for ministers.

When Chancellor Hugh Dalton was heading to the Chamber to deliver his 1947 Budget he stopped to talk with a Lobby correspondent and divulged certain aspects of his plans. The journalist managed to get it into his newspaper's late-night edition shortly before Dalton reached the relevant section in his speech. Having effectively "leaked" details of his Budget before informing Parliament, Dalton felt compelled to offer his resignation which Clement Attlee accepted.

Better accommodation for journalists

The number of reporters based in Parliament also continued to grow. When the Commons Chamber was destroyed by a bomb in 1941 the press gallery had 69 seats, double the number it had in 1852 but still not enough to accommodate every journalist based there.

So when Parliament began planning its reconstruction, the press gallery committee asked for 95 seats, more space, better telephone facilities and a smarter entrance. They got much of what they wanted and when the new Commons Chamber opened on 26 October 1950 journalists had better accommodation than ever before.

End of the 14-day rule

Coverage of Parliament also continued to undergo reform. In 1957 the 14-day rule, whereby the BBC agreed not to broadcast discussions on subjects which were due to be debated in Parliament within the next fortnight, was finally dropped.

As Prime Minister from 1951 to 1955 Sir Winston Churchill had refused to relax this rule. However when the Suez Crisis took place under the following Prime Minister, Sir Anthony Eden, whose plight dominated parliamentary proceedings, the BBC and other media outlets simply chose to ignore the rule.

Biographies

You can access biographies of

Hugh Dalton
Clement Attlee
Winston Churchill
Anthony Eden

from the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography for free, online, using your local library card number (includes nine out of ten public libraries in the UK) or from within academic library and other subscribing networks.

Also within Living Heritage