Select Committee on Procedure Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witness (Questions 260 - 263)



  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 claimed?
  (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, is it?
  (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 important issue.
  (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.

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