Margaret Thatcher: Prime Minister Indomitable

By Juliet S. Thompson; Wayne C. Thompson | Go to book overview

9
Admission of the Press to
Meetings of Local Authorities

Maiden Speech in the House of Commons, February 5, 1960

This is a maiden speech, but I know that the constituency of Finchley, which I have the honour to represent, would not wish me to do other than come straight to the point and address myself to the matter before the House. I cannot do better than begin by stating the objects of the bill in the words used by Mr. Arthur Henderson when he introduced the bill which became the Local Authorities (Admission of the Press to Meetings) Act, 1908, which was also a Private Member's Measure. He specified the object nd purpose as that of guarding the rights of members of the public by nabling the fullest information to be obtained for them in regard to the ctions of their representatives upon local authorities.

It is appropriate at this stage to mention that the public does not have a ght of admission, either at common law or by statute, to the meetings of e local authorities. Members of the public are compelled, therefore, to rely on the local press for information on what their elected representatives e doing. The original measure was brought as a result of a case in which e representatives of a particular paper were excluded from a particular eting.

The public has the right, in the first instance, to know what its elected resentatives are doing. That right extends in a number of directions. I do t know whether hon. Members generally appreciate the total amount of ney spent by local authorities. . . . Less than half is raised by ratepayers'

-163-

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