Bloggers set to be allowed privileged access to Westminster lobby system

Commons chiefs in talks to allow selected bloggers access to corridors of power.

Parliament: will bloggers soon overrun the Commons
Parliament: will bloggers soon overrun the Commons

House of Commons chiefs are fine-tuning plans to give bloggers privileged access to government communications.

The radical move would see selected bloggers allowed into the Westminster lobby system, provided they meet certain criteria.

PRWeek understands that conversations have been taking place between the Commons authorities and Financial Times political editor George Parker, who is chairman of the parliamentary press gallery.

Parker told PRWeek recent applications had forced the authorities to revisit the issue. 'The system is being tested on a case-by-case basis,' he said. 'There's no ban on bloggers at the moment, but things are being refined as we go along, because it's a new form of journalism and the authorities are having to adapt.'

However, the Commons authorities are understood to be concerned that an influx of bloggers into the lobby could further undermine the reputation of Parliament.

One Commons insider said: 'If you have a lobby pass, you can wander anywhere. There will be far more scope for mischief and trivia if you let bloggers in.'

Parker said: 'What the Commons authorities are concerned about is that there should be no precedent set that would create a free-for-all. They don't want to have the House of Commons over-run by bloggers.'

He added that certain criteria should have to be met by bloggers: 'The general criteria we would agree with is that the person applying for the pass should be a proper journalist with a track record of journalism; that they should be operating for a respectable news organisation or website with a reasonably large number of subscribers or viewers; and that they should be using the pass for the purposes of journalism, rather than coming in and commenting on stuff.'

THE LOBBY SYSTEM

The lobby is a small group of journalists who enjoy privileged access to certain parts of Parliament.

Lobby journalists can attend the off-camera government briefings by the PM's spokesman.

They can also access the Members' Lobby, where they can get information from MPs, normally on the understanding that the source will not be revealed.

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