6 The privilege issues
Matters relating to privilege
arising from the police operation
136. Our terms of reference require us to consider
any matter relating to privilege arising from the police operation.
We have reviewed the police operation extensively above, as it
cannot be separated from our consideration of the internal processes
of the House.
137. The Johnston Report recommends there should
be discussions between the Metropolitan Police and the DPP/CPS
"about the handing of similar cases in the future, because
they create real challenges for investigators in balancing the
need for thoroughness, transparency and even-handedness in investigations,
with the responsibility of MPs to carry out their lawful duties
robustly and in confidence". Johnston also called for greater
clarity on Parliamentary Privilege.
138. Denis O'Connor set out a model Protocol
on leak investigations, which suggested that in cases where a
Member of Parliament is suspected of an offence the impact of
parliamentary privilege must be addressed and constantly addressed
at every step of the leak investigation process, ideally through
a single parliamentary official as a single point of contact (SPOC).
139. We have expressed our opinion upon various
aspects of the police operation, and we have noted a number of
criticisms of it made in the Reports by Denis O'Connor and by
Sir Ian Johnston. We have identified failings and errors of judgement
in the way the matter was handled by the police, particularly
in accepting the initial brief from the Cabinet Office, in pursuing
charges relating to misconduct in public office, deciding to launch
a surprise arrest instead of seeking an appointment with the Member
of Parliament concerned, in pressuring the Serjeant at Arms into
consenting to the search of the parliamentary office, and in not
abiding by the PACE Code of Practice.
140. We do not consider that
anything the police did amounted to a breach of privilege or a
contempt of the House but the conduct of the police in this matter
clearly fell below acceptable standards, as the Johnston and O'Connor
Reports bear out. We understand that the Metropolitan Police has
accepted the conclusions of those Reports.
Matters relating to privilege:
recommendations for the future
141. Sir William McKay's Memorandum of 28 July
2000 stated that "we have no real precedent for how such
a request should be met". In the memorandum which "tries
to suggest what the reaction might be, resting on first principles
and on Canadian practice", Sir William McKay set out what
he described as some "unresolved imperatives"
- Control of the premises is
vested in the Speaker
- The Speaker is guardian of the House's privileges
(subject to the House itself)
- The House's privileges must not be infringed
- Proceedings and Members taking part in them,
must not be impeded
- Privilege does not afford protection from a proper
- The Palace of Westminster is not a sanctuary.
142. These imperatives remain and we endorse
them as central to any discussion of the issues thrown up by this
case. It is fruitless to attempt to cover every possible set of
circumstances that might conceivably arise in the future from
the interaction of the House, its Members and the criminal law,
but those imperatives provide a firm starting point.
143. The question of the police search of a Member's
office was not mentioned at all in the Report of the Joint Committee
on Parliamentary Privilege in 1998-99.
Sir William McKay commented that the problem had however arisen
in various Commonwealth jurisdictions, and in the United States,
over the past twenty years.
144. The Joint Committee stated, correctly, that
Parliament is not a haven from the law, and there is no general
criminal immunity in our jurisdiction for Members of Parliament.
Malcolm Jack told us that the "crux of the problem"
was whether the House could interrupt the process of a criminal
investigation without in some way prejudicing it.
THE SPEAKER'S PROTOCOL
145. As we have already noted, on 8 December
2008 Mr Speaker Martin issued a Protocol, which we set out below,
on the execution of a search warrant in the precincts of the House
|1. In my statement of 3 December 2008 (OR col 3) I said I would issue a protocol to all Members on the searching of Members' offices. In future a warrant will always be required for a search of a Member's office or access to a Member's parliamentary papers including his electronic records and any such warrant will be referred to me for my personal decision.
2. Though much of the precincts of the House are open to the public, there are parts of the buildings which are not public. The House controls access to its precincts for a variety of reasons, including security, confidentiality and effective conduct of parliamentary business.
3. Responsibility for controlling access to the precincts of the House has been vested by the House in me. It is no part of my duties as Speaker to impede the proper administration of justice, but it is of equal concern that the work of the House and of its Members is not unnecessarily hindered.
4. The precincts of Parliament are not a haven from the law. A criminal offence committed within the precincts is no different from an offence committed outside and is a matter for the courts. It is long established that a Member may be arrested within the precincts.
5. In cases where the police wish to search within Parliament, a warrant must be obtained and any decision relating to the execution of that warrant must be referred to me. In all cases where any Officer or other member of the staff of the House is made aware that a warrant is to be sought the Clerk of the House, Speaker's Counsel, the Speaker's Secretary and the Serjeant at Arms must be informed. No Officer or other member of the staff of the House may undertake any duty of confidentiality which has the purpose or effect of preventing or impeding communication with these Officers.
6. I will consider any warrant and will take advice on it from senior officials. As well as satisfying myself as to the formal validity of the warrant, I will consider the precision with which it specifies the material being sought, its relevance to the charge brought and the possibility that the material might be found elsewhere. I reserve the right to seek the advice of the Attorney General and Solicitor General.
7. I will require a record to be provided of what has been seized, and I may wish to attach conditions to the police handling of any parliamentary material discovered in a search until such time as any issue of privilege has been resolved.
8. Any search of a Member's office or belongings will only proceed in the presence of the Serjeant at Arms, Speaker's Counsel or their deputies. The Speaker may attach conditions to such a search which require the police to describe to a senior parliamentary official the nature of any material being seized which may relate to a Member's parliamentary work and may therefore be covered by parliamentary privilege. In the latter case, the police shall be required to sign an undertaking to maintain the confidentiality of that material removed, until such time as any issue of privilege has been resolved.
9. If the police remove any document or equipment from a Member's office, they will be required to treat any data relating to individual constituents with the same degree of care as would apply in similar circumstances to removal of information about a client from a lawyer's office.
10. The execution of a warrant shall not constitute a waiver of privilege with respect to any parliamentary material which may be removed by the police.
11. In view of the concern shown by Members, I am circulating this document without delay, but I shall take into account any representations by Members for its revision and will issue a revised document, should this be necessary.
146. The first point to note is the assertion
that a warrant will always be required for a search of a Member's
office; that statement fulfils one of the PACE conditions for
securing a warrant, by making it clear that consent to a search
will never be granted by the House authorities. Looking back on
the Damian Green case, if the Protocol had been in force at that
time the police could have asked the District Judge for a warrant
to search his parliamentary office at the same time as they were
granted the warrants for the search of his homes and constituency
147. The second, and contrasting, point in the
Speaker's Protocol is that "any such warrant will be referred
to me for my personal decision". Here we begin to depart
from PACE and to enter what Malcolm Jack described as the "slightly
mysterious" domain of exclusive cognisance as far as the
precincts of the House are concerned.
Malcolm Jack found it "quite hard to imagine the police arriving
with a warrant that actually interfered with proceedings of the
House and therefore raised a matter of privilege that the Speaker
would have to consider at that point".
Under the Protocol, the Speaker's involvement would deal with
technical aspects including the formal validity of the warrant,
the precision with which it specified the material being sought,
its relevance to the charge brought and the possibility that the
material might be found elsewhere. Michael Carpenter, Speaker's
Counsel, advised us that the proper course would be to accede
to the execution of a warrant, as one is under a legal duty to
do so, and then apply in the first instance for judicial review
of the issue of a warrant.
When we invited Speaker's Counsel to speculate on what might happen
if the Speaker declined to permit execution of the warrant, he
replied "Then you might have an undignified scuffle at the
door"; he thought that the police would either exercise reasonable
force, or go away and consider bringing charges of obstruction
against those who had refused the officers entry to the premises
specified in the warrant.
Sir William McKay told us that he could not envisage circumstances
in which a Speaker might wish to prevent the execution of a warrant.
If there ever were such circumstances, the need for the clarification
of the role of the Head of Parliamentary Security, which the Clerk
of the House agreed would be helpful, would become acute.
148. The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) submitted
to us a commentary on the Speaker's Protocol, noting that as a
unilateral protocol issued to Members of the House it has no binding
effect on the MPS or its operations.
The MPS accepted that a search warrant should not be executed
over premises in Parliament on a Parliamentary sitting day without
the express concurrence of the Speaker (or his Deputy if the Speaker
is not in Parliament).
The MPS contested other parts of the Protocol
It is respectfully submitted that any decision relating
the sought material to the relevance of the charge or whether
such material may be found elsewhere is not a proper function
of the Speaker when deciding matters related to the execution
of a properly granted and valid search warrant. These matters
will already have been judicially determined upon the grant of
149. The MPS argued that the courts are entitled
to determine whether a document is capable of attracting parliamentary
privilege, which is affected by the purpose for which it is being
adduced: "if the documents seized are to prove the occurrence
of parliamentary events they are admissible; if they are adduced
to question the propriety of the parliamentary event then they
are embargoed by Article IX of the Bill of Rights".
The MPS proposed a procedure to allow a Member to insist on House
officials reviewing any disputed material, subject to the final
decision of the court.
150. Malcolm Jack emphasised in his evidence
to us that a Member cannot be arrested in the precincts while
the House is sitting "because that would interfere with his
first duty which is to attend upon the House".
THE JOINT COMMITTEE ON PARLIAMENTARY
151. Sir Patrick Cormack, the Member for South
Staffordshire, drew our attention to the 1999 Report from the
Joint Committee on Parliamentary Privilege, of which he had been
a member. The
Joint Committee had recommended putting more of parliamentary
privilege on statutory footing. In its Report on the Parliamentary
Standards Bill, published in July 2009, the House of Commons Justice
Select Committee suggested that it was an appropriate time for
considering whether to have a Parliamentary Privilege Act.
The Report of the Joint Committee on the draft Bribery Bill, also
published in July 2009, concluded that
The issue of parliamentary privilege has arisen in
relation to several pieces of legislation and draft legislation
in recent years. Legislating in a piecemeal fashion risks undermining
the important constitutional principles of parliamentary privilege
without consciousness of the overall impact of doing so. This
issue was examined in considerable detail by the 1999 Joint Committee
on Parliamentary Privilege, which concluded that a Parliamentary
Privileges Act was required. We believe that, should the Government
deem it necessary, such an act would be the most appropriate place
to address the potential evidential problems in relation to bribery
152. The Joint Committee on Parliamentary Privilege
emphasised that the right of each House to administer its
internal affairs within its precincts was intended to protect
each House in respect of the conduct of its internal affairs and
not to embrace and protect activities of individuals, whether
Members or non-Members, simply because they took place within
the precincts of Parliament
Thus, unless protected by Article 9 as part of proceedings
in Parliament, the speech and conduct of members enjoyed no special
privilege under this heading. Article 9 aside, members can be
prosecuted for criminal conduct, such as a breach of the official
secrets legislation, or pursued in the civil courts for slander
or other wrongs, even when the conduct complained of occurred
within the Palace of Westminster. If a member is charged with
a criminal offence, no waiver of immunity is required. If one
of their members is imprisoned and cannot attend the House, the
two Houses expect only to be informed of the fact. The same principle
applies to the premises in which Parliament meets. A criminal
offence committed in the precincts is triable in the courts. A
member may be arrested within the precincts.
153. Ben Wallace, the Member for Lancaster and
Wyre, raised with us concerns that the "Wilson doctrine",
instigated in 1966 to cover all forms of interception which were
subject to authorisation by Secretary of State Warrant, needed
updating in the light of technological developments over the past
40 years. Surveillance methods have rapidly overtaken the basic
intercept and these now enable Authorities to have a significant
capability: listening devices, directional microphones, software,
covert searches and concealed cameras. He also suggested that
if Parliament were considered to be a "public" place
under the relevant Regulation of Investigative Powers Act (RIPA)
legislation, the bugging of Members' offices could be authorised
by any police superintendent, or indeed a district inspector of
sea fisheries, without reference to any Minister or other authority.
154. The "Wilson doctrine" was set
out in answer to questions in the House of Commons on 17 November
1966. The then Prime Minister, Rt Hon Harold Wilson, said that
he had given instructions that there was to be no tapping of the
telephones of Members of Parliament and that if there were a development
which required a change of policy he would at such moment as was
compatible with the security of the country make a statement in
the House about it.
The Wilson doctrine has been maintained under successive administrations.
Following the implementation of the Regulation of Investigatory
Powers Act 2000, which updated existing laws and set in place
new legal procedures governing the interception of communications
carried on both public and private telecommunications systems,
the then Prime Minister, Rt Hon Tony Blair, advised the House
that he had received advice from the Interception of Communications
Commissioner, Rt Hon Sir Swinton Thomas, on the implications for
the Wilson doctrine of the regulatory framework established under
that Act. Sir
Swinton Thomas advised that, taking into account the new and robust
regulatory framework governing interception and the changed circumstances
since 1966, the Wilson doctrine should not be sustained. The Prime
Minster stated that he had considered Sir Swinton's advice very
seriously, together with concerns expressed in this House in response
to his written ministerial statement on 15 December 2005, and
had decided that the Wilson doctrine should be maintained.
It was presumably this consideration of the Commissioner's advice
that Lord Martin of Springburn was referring to in his evidence
when he told us that within the last few years he had involved
the Deputy Prime Minister in resisting an attempt by a High Court
judge to lift the protection of the Wilson doctrine in the Palace
A RIGHT OF REPLY
155. Another issue that the Clerk of the House
suggested might be addressed by a new Joint Committee on Parliamentary
Privilege could be the balance to be struck between freedom of
speech and a right of reply or redress. Although in the case of
A v UK the European Court of Human Rights decided in 2002
in favour of Parliament, with the UK having been supported by
a number of Member States, there were judicial concerns about
the limited options for a person wishing to refute damaging comments
made about them in the House.
DEFINITION OF PROCEEDINGS
156. The Joint Committee on Parliamentary Privilege
recognised in 1999 that a statutory definition of proceedings
in Parliament would not solve all problems, but argued that it
would remove some areas of confusion. That Joint Committee recommended
that "the uncertainty in these areas should be ended without
further delay" and proposed the enactment of a definition
on the following lines
(1) For the purposes of article 9 of the Bill of
Rights 1689 `proceedings in Parliament' means all words spoken
and acts done in the course of, or for the purposes of, or necessarily
incidental to, transacting the business of either House of Parliament
or of a committee.
(2) Without limiting (1), this includes:
(a) the giving of evidence before a House or a committee
or an officer appointed by a House to receive such evidence,
(b) the presentation or submission of a document
to a House or a committee or an officer appointed by a House to
receive it, once the document is accepted,
(c) the preparation of a document for the purposes
of transacting the business of a House or a committee, provided
any drafts, notes, advice or the like are not circulated more
widely than is reasonable for the purposes of preparation,
(d) the formulation, making or publication of a document
by a House or a committee,
(e) the maintenance of any register of the interests
of the members of a House and any other register of interests
prescribed by resolution of a House.
(3) A 'committee' means a committee appointed by
either House or a joint committee appointed by both Houses of
Parliament and includes a sub-committee.
(4) A document includes any disc, tape or device
in which data are embodied so as to be capable of being reproduced
157. Sir William McKay suggested that this Committee
might wish to take the opportunity to elaborate on the thinking
of the committee on the Sandys case in 1938-39
The Attorney General told the 1938-39 committee that
the courts would be likely to give a broad construction to the
term 'proceedings', 'having regard to the great fundamental purpose
which freedom of speech serves.' The assurance may or may not
hold good seventy years later, but the distinction between protected
and unprotected material is critical to any new arrangements for
conducting searches of Members' offices.
158. Roger Gale, the Member for North Thanet,
proposed that the parliamentary constituency casework of Members
of Parliament should be afforded the same privileges of confidentiality
as those afforded to doctors' notes and to lawyers' files and
that the House of Commons should take a significant step to afford
protection, not to Members of Parliament, but to the private details
and circumstances of individual constituents.
The protections to which doctors' patients and lawyers' clients
respectively are entitled depend on a complex interaction of common
and statute law, including the Human Rights Act, so assigning
a similar level of protection to individual constituents would
be no simple task.
159. Malcolm Jack suggested that there was a
case for re-examining the conclusions on this matter of the Joint
Committee on Parliamentary Privilege, which had adopted the general
Commonwealth position that correspondence should still not be
covered by absolute privilege and which had concluded that the
common law protection of qualified privilege in the courts had
worked sufficiently well.
The Clerk of the House suggested that it might possible to revisit
that matter in the context of consideration of a new Privileges
160. In his written submission, John Hemming,
the Member for Birmingham, Yardley, said that there are many situations
where MPs receive information from whistleblowers and the identity
of the source of that information needs to be protected. He suggested
that if there were a request for an MP's office to be searched
without the Member's permission, there should be a detailed explanation
of the request, which should clearly relate to matters other than
parliamentary proceedings covered by Article IX of the Bill of
Rights. He also suggested that the search should be performed
by two House officials and that the Committee on Standards and
Privileges should consider whether any material drawn to their
attention by the House officials was privileged before handing
over any non-privileged materials to the police. He saw no objection
to a Member voluntarily agreeing to provide information to the
police. He proposed that a similar system should apply in respect
of access to a Member's e-mail and any files or computers that
they use for parliamentary business, wherever that may be. He
noted that Members hold a large amount of correspondence from
constituents and others and that a form of professional privilege
should apply to such correspondence, akin to the professional
privilege of a solicitor.
161. Rt Hon David Davis, Member for Haltemprice
and Howden, viewed privilege in his submission to this Committee
as an assertion of a supra-legal right rather than a right based
on legal precedent. In his view a broad and absolute parliamentary
privilege should allow a Member of Parliament to keep the involvement
of a whistleblower secret, in the absence of statutory protection
for a public servant disclosing information to an MP. A too narrow
view of privilege could lead to the perverse consequence that
the only way to protect any leaked secret information would be
to make public use of it in parliamentary proceedings.
162. In the view of Derek Wyatt, the Member for
Sittingbourne and Sheppey, MPs should not be above the law apart
from privilege in the Chamber, which had to be protected.
PRIVILEGE AND THE REPORTING OF PARLIAMENT
163. Another matter which the Joint Committee
on Parliamentary Privilege recommended for action was the replacement
of the Parliamentary Papers Act 1840 with a modern statute.
As has been recently pointed out by the House of Commons Culture,
Media and Sport Committee, the fair reporting of proceedings in
Parliament is a cornerstone of our democracy.
The Lord Chief Justice has suggested in a press release that it
would be constitutionally improper for a judge to hinder the reporting
of the press to report Parliament fairly is a matter which would
need proper attention in any re-statement or revision of the law
on parliamentary privilege.
DEFAMATION AND FREEDOM OF SPEECH
164. The House of Commons Standards and Privileges
Committee was recently invited by the Law Society to consider
problems which can arise when the ability of citizens to assert
their legal rights, or to effect a settlement where a defamatory
statement is to be withdrawn, may conflict with the rights of
Parliamentarians to make, within the confines of the House, statements
that might otherwise be defamatory. The Law Society suggested
that, given the current debate on the defamation laws and the
wide-ranging review announced by the Lord Chancellor in December
2009, the time may now be right to examine these issues in the
round, especially when the last comprehensive review of parliamentary
privilege was over ten years ago. The Standards and Privileges
Committee concluded that even if it had not been precluded from
considering issue beyond the narrow matter referred to that Committee
by the House, "it would be wrong in the light of proceedings
now pending in the courts for us to comment on wider aspects of
PRIVILEGE AND THE COURTS
165. The Attorney General's memorandum of 3 April
2009 says that any decision by a Committee or the House on what
evidence was covered by parliamentary privilege would not be binding
on the courts. She concluded that there was a risk that the principle
of comity between Parliament and the courts would be undermined
by a purported attempt by the House to determine such questions
and thus usurp the determinative role of the courts.
The Clerk of the House floated the idea that there should be a
panel of some senior Members whom the Speaker could consult when
deciding upon formal interventions by or on behalf of the House
in court cases to establish whether parliamentary privilege applies,
or not, to material brought before the court or other matters
arising from the Speaker's Protocol.
166. On the question of admissibility of evidence
before the courts, Malcolm Jack referred to the provision of the
Australian Parliamentary Privileges Act prohibiting the production
of documents prepared for submission and submitted to a House
or a committee as evidence before a court or a tribunal as a statutory
model. While there
is a risk that statutory provision could lead to litigation, the
Clerk of the House told us that "the Australian experience
does not suggest that too much difficulty has been created by
the existence of this particular provision".
LEGISLATING ON PARLIAMENTARY PRIVILEGE
167. Among other matters that might be covered
in a future privileges statute, the Clerk of the House referred
in his supplementary written evidence to the relationship of privilege
to the offence of bribery, the need to prevent the use of select
committee evidence as the basis of litigation and the need to
review section 13 of the Defamation Act 1996 (which allows an
individual Member to waive parliamentary privilege in certain
168. The traditional view has been to resist
entombing parliamentary privilege in statute law
The dignity and independence of the two Houses are
in great measure preserved by keeping their privileges indefinite.
If all the privileges of Parliament were set down and ascertained,
and no privilege to be allowed but what was so defined and determined,
it were easy for the executive power to devise some new case,
not within the line of privilege, and under pretence thereof to
harrass any refractory Member and violate the freedom of Parliament.
169. As we have indicated, there are a number
of issues connected with parliamentary privilege which deserve
It would in our view be a mistake for Parliament to legislate
in haste or to address only one aspect of the multi-faceted relationship
between liberty, Parliament and the law. While we have no unanimous
conclusion on the wisdom or necessity of legislating on parliamentary
privilege, we agree in recommending that before any Government
Bill on the subject was introduced it would be highly desirable
for the whole question to be addressed in the round by a special
joint committee drawn from both Houses. Before setting out to
define and limit parliamentary privilege in statute, there needs
to be a comprehensive review of how that privilege affects the
work and responsibilities of an MP in the twenty-first century.
286 Johnston Report, page 58 Back
O'Connor Report Annex B pages 61 to 63 Back
Q 1069 Back
Ev 132, 135 para 9 Back
Q 625; on international experience, see Ev 126-127 paras 29 to
35, Ev 151 paras 23 to 29 Back
Q 1013 Back
Ev 126 paras 26 to 28 and Ev 128-129 [full text now in Report]
Q 223 Back
Qq 1044, 1050 Back
Q 337 Back
Q 339 Back
Q 679 Back
Qq, 340, 341 Back
Ev 159 para 3 Back
Ev 159 para 5 Back
Ev 159 para 6 Back
Ev 160 para 13 Back
Ev 160 para 15 Back
Q 1057 Back
Ev 133-Report from the Joint Committee on Parliamentary Privilege,
Session 1998-99, HL Paper 43-I/HC 214-I. The Joint Committee was
chaired by Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead, a Law Lord (Lord of Appeal
in Ordinary). Back
House of Commons Justice Committee, Seventh Report of Session
2008-09, Constitutional Reform and Renewal: Parliamentary Standards
Bill, HC 791, para 6 Back
First Report from the Joint Committee on the draft Bribery Bill,
Session 2008-09, HL Paper 115-I/HC 430-I, para 228 Back
Report from the Joint Committee on Parliamentary Privilege, Session
1998-99, HL Paper 43-I/HC 214-I, para 242 (italics in original) Back
Ev 152 Back
HC Deb 17 November 1966 vol 736 cols 634-41 Back
see Erskine May 23rd edition (2004), page 146 Back
HC Deb 15 December 2005 vol 440 column 173WS. Sir Swinton Thomas
was appointed Interception of Communications Commissioner in 2000.
He had served as a Judge of the High Court, Family Division from
1985 to 1990, of the Queen's Bench Division from 1990 to 1994
and a Lord Justice of Appeal from 1994 to 2000. Back
HC Deb 30 March 2006 vol 444 col 96WS; the present Prime Minister
(Rt Hon Gordon Brown) has re-affirmed the position: "The
Wilson doctrine continues to apply to all forms of surveillance
and interception that are subject to authorisation by Secretary
of State warrant." (HC Deb 21 July 2009 vol 496 col 1166W) Back
Q 137 Back
Q 1079; A. v. the United Kingdom (No. 35373/97) European
Court of Human Rights Back
Report from the Joint Committee on Parliamentary Privilege, Session
1998-99, HL Paper 43-I/HC 214-I, paras 127, 129 Back
Ev 150 para 15 Back
Ev 144-145 Back
Qq 644, 646 to 648, 654 to 655,1043, 1077 to 1078; Ev 125 para
Q 1079, Ev 176 Back
Ev 133 Back
Ev 161 Back
Ev 133 Back
Report from the Joint Committee on Parliamentary Privilege, Session
1998-99, HL Paper 43-I/HC 214-I, para 374 Back
Second Report of Session 2009-10 from the House of Commons Culture,
Media and Sport Committee, Press standards, privacy and libel,
HC 362-I, paras 94 to 102 Back
In his press release dated 20 October 2009, the Lord Chief Justice,
Lord Judge, stated: "I am speaking entirely personally but
I should need some very powerful persuasion indeed - and that,
I suppose, is close to saying I simply cannot envisage - that
it would be constitutionally possible, or proper, for a court
to make an order which might prevent or hinder or limit discussion
of any topic in Parliament. Or that any judge would intentionally
formulate an injunction which would purport to have that effect."
Ninth Report of Session 2009-10 from the Committee on Standards
and Privileges, Privilege: John Hemming and Withers LLP,
HC 373, para 25 Back
Ev 131 para 9 Back
Q 1070 Back
Q 1029, referring to section 16 (4) of the Australian Parliamentary
Privileges Act 1987 Ev 175 paras 3 and 4 Back
Ev 175 para 3 Back
The Joint Committee on Draft Bribery Bill recommended that a Privileges
Act "would be the most appropriate place to address the potential
evidential problem in relation to bribery offences" in its
First Report, Session 2008-09, HL Paper 115-1/HC 430-1, para 228;
Joint Committee on Parliamentary Privilege 1998-99, HL Paper 43-I/HC
214-I, paras 60-82 Back
William Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England
(1765-1769) quoted by the Prime Minister (Rt Hon Neville Chamberlain)
in the final debate on the Sandys affair (HC Deb 21 November 1939
vol 353 col1071). For a similar view expressed by the 1938-39
Committee on the Official Secrets Acts, see paragraph 33 of this