It has been another of those weeks. Yesterday was especially hectic, similar to Wednesday of last week (Constitution Committee, Association of Conservative Peers, Sub-Committee E of the EU Committee, Grand Committee on the Political Parties and Elections Bill, and a seminar with my students) but with the addition of giving evidence to the Information Committee and the votes on the Health Bill. I will do a separate post on the latter.
I attended the Constitution Committee in the morning (a briefing meeting for our inquiry into the Cabinet Office) but had to leave early and cross the corridor to the meeting of the Lords Information Committee. The committee was taking evidence from four journalists (David Hencke of The Guardian, Jason Beattie of The Mirror, Peter Riddell of The Times, and John Hipwood of the Wolverhampton Express and Star) and then from me. A video of the session can be found here. The journalists were very helpful; they stressed the value of targeting specialist and local media and of providing the press gallery with details of the specialist interest of peers.
I had already made a written submission and the questions focused on my recommendations in that. In my evidence, I stressed the importance of increasing resources, of targeting audiences (not treating ‘the public’ as some homogeneous whole), and of putting over not only the positive features of the House (as opposed to appearing overly defensive) but also putting with greater clarity the core functions of the House. In this respect, I drew on this blog. I mentioned a response to my earlier post on the re-designed website. I quoted the comment of howridiculous that the home page appeared to be ‘too fussy’. There is the danger of us providing too much detail on the specifics of what we do and losing sight of explaining in simple terms what we are about.
The committee has already taken evidence from a range of witnesses, including pupils from a number of schools, and continues to welcome submissions. Its web forum will remain open until 21 May.