DEFINITIONS OF `PROCEEDINGS IN PARLIAMENT'
(a) Definition of `Proceedings in Parliament'
proposed by the Joint Committee on the Publication of Proceedings
in Parliament, 1970:
1. (1) For the purpose of the defence
of absolute privilege in an action or prosecution for defamation
the expression "proceedings in Parliament" shall without
prejudice to the generality thereof include:
(a) all things said done or written by a
Member or by any Officer of either House of Parliament or by any
person ordered or authorised to attend before such House, in or
in the presence of such House and in the course of a sitting of
such House, and for the purpose of the business being or about
to be transacted, wherever such sitting may be held and whether
or not it be held in the presence of strangers to such House:
provided that for the purpose aforesaid the expression "House"
shall be deemed to include any Committee sub-Committee or other
group or body of Members or Members and Officers of either House
of Parliament appointed by or with the authority of such House
for the purpose of carrying out any of the functions of or of
representing such House; and
(b) all things said done or written between
Members or between Members and Officers of either House of Parliament
or between Members and Ministers of the Crown for the purpose
of enabling any Member or any such Officer to carry out his functions
as such provided that publication thereof be not wider than is
reasonably necessary for that purpose.
(2) In this section "Member" means
a Member of either House of Parliament; and "Officer of either
House of Parliament" means any person not being a Member
whose duties require him from time to time to participate in proceedings
in Parliament as herein defined.
The 1970 Joint Committee offered two alternative
additions to paragraphs (2) of their recommended definition:
(I) `and who should be in the opinion of
the Court be entitled in the public interest to the same absolute
privilege in relation to an action or prosecution for defamation
as a Member'.
(II) `and who is a member of a class of person
from time to time designated by the Lord Chancellor or by Mr Speaker
for purposes of this section'.
In alternative (I)wrote the 1970 Joint
Committeethe decision would be taken by the courts after
hearing evidence as to the Officer's duties and argument as to
what the public interest required; this was the position at common
law in relation to the defence of absolute privilege when claimed
by an officer of state. Alternative (II), by contrast, left to
Parliament itself, acting through the Lord Chancellor and the
Speaker, the judgement of what the public interest required. The
1970 Joint Committee noted the advantage that by this method litigation
on the subject might be avoided, through there was room for argument
over the definition of class of person.
The 1970 Joint Committee expressed a preference
for alternative (I); and their view was shared by the Faulks Committee
in 1975. Two years later however the Committee of Privileges came
out strongly in favour of alternative (II) in relation to proceedings
of the House of Commons. They took the view that only the House
should decide what it requires to be done as part of its proceedings,
and therefore a certificate from the Speaker in respect of Officers
of the Commons was the appropraite way to determine the matter.
(b) Definition of `Proceedings in Parliament'
contained in s. 16(2) of the Parliamentary Privileges Act 1987
`(2) For the purposes of the provisions
of article 9 of the Bill of Rights, 1688 as applying in relation
to the Parliament, and for the purposes of this section, `proceedings
in Parliament' means all words spoken and acts done in the course
of, or for purposes of or incidental to, the transacting of the
business of a House or of a Committee, and, without limiting the
generality of the foregoing, includes
(a) the giving of evidence before a House
or a Committee, and evidence so given;
(b) the presentations of submission of a
document to a House or a committee;
(c) the preparation of a document for purposes
of or incidental to the transacting of any such business; and
(d) the formulation, making or publication
of a document, including a report, by or pursuant to an order
of a House or a committee and the document so formulated, made
428 Second Report (1969-70) HL 109, HC 261, paragraphs