Palace of Westminster (Closed Circuit Television)

Oral Answers to Questions — Ministry of Works – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 15 May 1962.

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Photo of Mr Victor Goodhew Mr Victor Goodhew , St Albans 12:00, 15 May 1962

asked the Minister of Works if he will report the results of the recent experiment of a closed circuit television system to replace the present annunciator system in the House of Commons.

Photo of Lord John Hope Lord John Hope , Edinburgh Pentlands

The standard equipment, which was all that was available for the experiment, had defects which could be corrected in equipment designed for the purpose, so as to give a clearer and bolder message free from hum and flicker on suitably designed screens. The existing annunciator system must be renewed or replaced in a year or two and closed circuit television will mean a saving of about £3,000 in capital cost and perhaps a further £1,500 a year in running costs. I would propose, therefore, to follow up with manufactures the question of specially designed equipment.

Photo of Mr Victor Goodhew Mr Victor Goodhew , St Albans

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, apart from the hum and flicker, these models seem to have a rather disturbing machine-gun-like noise which comes out from time to time and which is very disturbing to those working in the Library? Is it possible for a silent model to be found? Also, will these screens be built into the woodwork, as are the annunciators now in the Library and other places, or will there have to be these vast cabinets standing on tables as during the trial period?

Photo of Lord John Hope Lord John Hope , Edinburgh Pentlands

There was certainly not intended to be any noise, and that is one of the things we must put right. With regard to the second part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question, which is certainly a point that occurs to one, I would hope it would be possible to build something in if we could find the right answer.

Photo of Sir George Benson Sir George Benson , Chesterfield

Before any change is made in the method of annunciation, will the right hon. Gentleman take the opinion of Members of the House as to which they prefer?

Photo of Lord John Hope Lord John Hope , Edinburgh Pentlands

Yes, certainly. I certainly would not want to settle on this before the House has had a chance to see an improved effort at design, but I hope it will be possible, if for no other reason than a saving in cost.

Photo of Sir George Benson Sir George Benson , Chesterfield

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that the proposed saving is trivial compared with the satisfaction which hon. Members get out of the present annunciators?

Photo of Lord John Hope Lord John Hope , Edinburgh Pentlands

I think that £1,500 a year is worth saving if we can do it.

Photo of Mr Philip Holland Mr Philip Holland , Acton

Will my right hon. Friend take note that the annunciators at present in use give audible warning in private rooms of a change of speaker, and, therefore, would he not take too much notice of my hon. Friend's suggestion that they should be completely silent if he changes over to television?

Photo of Lord John Hope Lord John Hope , Edinburgh Pentlands

I think that my hon. Friend who asked the question was referring to machine-gun fire and not to the announcing of a change of speaker. We should certainly have to ensure that the change of speaker was clearly understood.