UK & World News

  • 13 May 2014, 7:10

Public 'Expects' To See Election TV Debates

A House of Lords committee has urged politicians and broadcasters to ensure that television election debates happen in 2015, as they did five years before.

According to the Communications Committee of the Lords, the public wants and expects to see the debates happen.

The committee expressed its concern that political jockeying risks a return to the historical pattern of failure to reach agreement.

The committee's chairman, Lord Inglewood, said he hopes the report might serve to "make it harder for any reluctant party leaders and their strategists to withdraw from participating in something which the public expects to happen and which in a number of ways can be seen to have been in the public interest".

The peers also reject the idea that an independent body should be set up to oversee the organisation of debates, a suggestion they imply is based on what they call "pretty ill-informed" speculation.

However, they conclude that broadcasters could do more to engage the public with the debates.

Lord Inglewood said: "We do think that the broadcasters could collectively do more to inform voters and encourage the public to be interested in the issues and the process."

The report comes with negotiations among broadcasters and political parties still understood to be delicately balanced.

Last week David Cameron suggested he might be willing to engage in debates that included the Green Party and UKIP as well as Labour and the Lib Dems.

However, Labour and the Lib Dems have both said the same three-way format employed last time should be used again, and suggested it is the prime minister who is making agreement difficult.

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