Parliamentary Privilege First Report

Letter from the Rt Hon John Morris QC MP to the President of the Council


  Thank you for your letter of 11 May.

  I can see the reasoning behind the Lord Chief Justice's recommendation that my consent should be necessary for prosecutions of Members of Parliament under the proposed new corruption legislation.

  On the other hand, his proposal would require me to take prosecution decisions relating to Parliamentary colleagues. That is a position neither I nor my predecessors have been in before, because Members of Parliament are outside existing corruption legislation.

  I am also aware that the Law Commission have recommended that there should no longer be an Attorney General consent provision for corruption cases. They are likely to repeat that recommendation when they report shortly on the general subject of consents to prosecution. If we accept the recommendation, I doubt we could justify involving Law Officers where a case involves Members of Parliament but not otherwise.

  I would prefer, therefore, to suggest to the Joint Committee that the question of consent might be deferred until the Law Commission have reported. But I should say that my preference at this stage would be for the decision to lie with the Director of Public Prosecutions.

John Morris

21 May 1998

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