Friday, 20 April 2007

Start of Business - A comparison

I've just watched the opening moments of today's business in the House of Representatives. It is very different to the start of the day in the House of Commons.

C-Span showed the mace being brought into the chamber. At Westminster the presiding officer [Commons - Speaker; Lords - Lord Speaker] enters with the mace being carried behind. The doors of the chamber are then closed. The public cannot see [and the television cameras used by BBC Parliament and parliamentlive, do not record] the entering of the mace or 'prayers'.

I was impressed during a visit to the Senate that, not only were the public able to see the Senate at prayer, but on that day the Chaplain included the public, making the point that everyone there was involved. At Westminster this is not possible and the public are only admitted after prayers have concluded.

There are arguments for and against including the public - what do you think?

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