Parliamentary Privilege First Report

Further replies to the Chairman's letter of 18 November 1998 (see page 155) to various newspapers and broadcasters

The Times

  Thank you for your letter of 18 November letting us know about the enquiries by the Joint Committee on Parliamentary Privilege into the reporting and broadcasting of parliamentary proceedings. I have circulated a number of my interested colleagues and received responses from two of them.

  One of them, from the editor of our Law Report, makes observations about the timing of the delivery of judgments by the House of Lords. Reading your original letter, I think that my colleague has misunderstood your brief and that these matters do not fall within your Committee's remit. If I have misunderstood this, please let me know and I will copy the Law Report editor's note to you.

  The legal manager of Times Newspapers, Antony Whitaker, would like to put before you some suggestions about procedures for early day motions. In a preliminary note he says that "we had problems some years ago with the procedural niceties concerning early day motions and the stage at which they attract privilege when MPs take the initial steps to have them tabled." In order to write with greater precision, Mr Whitaker has been looking for a legal opinion commissioned some time ago. His search has not so far unearthed the document and he has been unable to express his views as fully as he would wish.

George Brock

15 December 1998


  Thank you for your letter of 18 November and my apologies for failing to meet the suggested deadline of 8 December for replying. An Anglo-French Summit in St Malo and the EU Summit in Vienna have somewhat complicated life in the past week.

  Having checked around with various BBC editors and correspondents I cannot find anybody who has had any particular problems with any aspect of the law relating to the publication or broadcasting of proceedings in Parliament so I am content to rest on the replies which you have already received from Chris Graham, the BBC Secretary.

  I understand from senior colleagues that it is, anyway, the BBC practice for him to collate and submit any BBC responses to requests such as yours.

  With many thanks for giving me the chance to respond.

Robin Oakley

Policital Editor

15 December 1998

The Independent on Sunday

  Thank you for your letter of 18 November.

  I do not believe there is anything I can usefully add to your deliberations.

Kim Fletcher


19 December 1998

The Liverpool Daily Post & Echo Ltd

  Thank you for your letter of 18 November and I apologise for having taken such a long time to reply.

  I have discussed the matter with my political editor, David Rose, who is a lobby correspondent of some 30 years standing.

  David tells me he is happy with the situation which exists at present.

Alastair Machray


23 December 1998

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