Parliamentary Privilege Report


Annex A

"PROCEEDINGS IN PARLIAMENT"

 (paragraphs 6, 10 and 15)

  The relevant section of the Australian Parliamentary Privileges Act 1987 reads:

  For the purposes of article IX 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 all acts done in the course of, or for the 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:

    —  the giving of evidence before a House or a committee, and evidence so given;

    —  the presentation or submission of a document to a House or a committee;

    —  the preparation of a document for the purposes of or incidental to the transacting of any such business; and

    —  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 or published.

  The parallel subsection in the Defamation Act 1996 (s 13(5)) reads:

    Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (4), that subsection applies to:

    —  the giving of evidence before either House or a committee;

    —  the presentation or submission of a document to either House or a committee;

    —  the preparation of a document for the purposes of or incidental to the transacting of any such business;

    —  the formulation, making or publication of a document, including a report, by or pursuant to an order of either House or a committee; and

    —  any communication with the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards or any person having functions in connection with the registration of members' interests.

  In this subsection "committee" means a committee of either House or a joint committee of both Houses of Parliament.

  Both the Select Committee on Parliamentary Privilege in 1966-67 and the Committee of Privileges in 1976-77 recommended the definition in legislation of the phrase "proceedings in Parliament". The latter noted that the same view had been taken by the Joint Committee on the Publication of Proceedings in Parliament (HC 261 (1969-70) paragraphs 25-28) and the Faulks Committee on Defamation. The Joint Committee's draft, commended by the Committee of Privileges, was —

    (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 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 no 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.


 
previous page contents next page

House of Lords home page Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries

© Parliamentary copyright 1999
Prepared 9 April 1999