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PARLIAMENT: Kennedy calls lobby system `untenable'

CHARLES KENNEDY, the Liberal Democrat leader, risked upsetting Westminster circles when he called for the abolition of the lobby system yesterday.

Mr Kennedy said the system, in which government spokesmen and ministers give off-the-record briefings, was no longer "tenable". Journalists should operate under US-style rules,where all briefings are on the record and most are televised.

"The quicker we get rid of the lobby system the better for all of us. I don't think in this day and age it is tenable to have these nods and winks, and on-the-record and off-the-record briefings," he said at the Commons press gallery lunch.

Mr Kennedy said the Prime Minister's press secretary, Alastair Campbell, should hold his press conferences on camera for use on television news. "I don't understand why we can't be more open," he said.