Examination of Witness (Questions 260
WEDNESDAY 31 JANUARY 2001
MR W R MCKAY
260. Is Norman French involved?
(Mr McKay) Not at that point. It is important that
the proceedings should be understood!
261. What about the part where privileges are
(Mr McKay) Her Majesty has made out a commission saying
to the Lords Commissioners that in her name they may accept the
nomination of the House of Commons of Mr or Mrs X as Speaker Elect.
At the beginning of a new Parliament the Speaker Elect claims
the privileges of the House, the traditional privileges of free
speech and so on. Some of those privileges are embodied in statute
but an awful lot are not. Although the courts have recognised
them, in the world in which we live one is anxious to be as careful
as possible not to give people who may have a go at the House
or at any Member an opportunity to do so by arguing, "Your
privileges have been confirmed since the days of Elizabeth, but
they were not confirmed in this Parliament so they do not exist
except in statute". That is a situation that would be cured
were there to be a statute that said in detail, "Here are
the privileges of the House of Commons".
262. That is in the gift only of the Commission,
(Mr McKay) About two years ago the Joint Committee
on Parliamentary Privilege made a recommendation saying that there
should be such a thing, but there has been no progress since then
in that direction.
263. Is there anything else that you would like
to put to the Committee? Do you feel that we have covered the
subject as thoroughly as it should be covered? This is a very
(Mr McKay) I think you have, Chairman. I do not think
that there is anything that I would like to add. If there is,
I shall write to you very soon.
Chairman: Thank you. On behalf of the Committee
I thank you very much for coming before us. I apologise yet again
for keeping you waiting, but these matters are more complicated
and they take longer to discuss than many people think. We want
to do a thorough job. Thank you very much for the evidence that
you have given us.