Parliamentary Privilege Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by Dr Geoffrey Marshall, Provost, The Queen's College, Oxford

1.  BASIS AND SCOPE OF PRIVILEGE

  In all legislatures the purpose of privilege or parliamentary immunity is that legislators individually and collectively should enjoy certain protections to enable them to carry out their elected mandate. They commonly embody limited immunities from criminal or civil processes during the legislative sessions, unless the immunity is lifted, and also freedom from legal penalties for what is said and done in the course of debate or legislative proceedings. Article 26 of the French Constitution, for example, provides that:

    "Aucun membre du Parlement ne peut-être poursuivi, recherché, arrêté, détenu ou jugé a" l'occasion des opinions ou votes émis par lui dans l'exercice de ses fonctions"[1]

  Such immunities in most countries stem from, and are controlled by, the constitution but in England the fundamental basis of parliamentary immunity lies in the assertion by both Houses of a right to exercise a jurisdiction stemming from their origins in the High Court of Parliament, "the first and the highest court in this kingdom".[2] This claim embraces the sole right of each House to determine all disputed matters arising out of its proceedings, together with the right to punish as contempts an indeterminate range of actions by non-members deemed to be obstructive or incompatible with the rights of its members. The contempt power was held by the Privy Council not to be inherent in legislative functions and was not conceded by the common law to colonial legislatures.[3] In the United States Congress claimed it as an adjunct to its investigative ro®le, mainly to allow compulsion of testimony by Congressional committees[4], but enforcement has, since the nineteenth century, been exercised by reference of cases to federal courts. In addition, Congress's penal power must be exercised only for legitimate purposes related to its legislative function and is subject to the due process and free speech clauses of the Constitution. These have in many cases inhibited Congressional attempts to exercise punitive powers that were originally asserted as vigorously as those of the Commons. The penal jurisdiction of the two Houses of Parliament has not been a matter of practical concern since the procedural reforms that followed the report of the 1967 Select Committee on Privilege. Nevertheless, it remains an issue of principle whether its present manner of exercise is compatible with the guarantees of due process and equality before the law that are embodied in the 1998 Human Rights Bill and the European Convention on Human Rights. The same is true of some aspects of the general claim to exclusive cognisance of matters arising within the two Houses. At the present time one particular instance of the claim to exercise exclusive jurisdiction deserves priority of consideration—namely the scope and implications of the privilege, confirmed in Article 9 of the Bill of Rights of 1689, which asserts that the freedom of speech and debates or proceedings ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place outside of Parliament. Since the Houses' claim has been endorsed by the Queen in Parliament in the 1689 statute, the issue is one both of privilege and statutory interpretation.

2.  TERMINOLOGY AND FORMULATION OF PRIVILEGE

  The 1967 Select Committee recommended the abandonment of the term "parliamentary privilege"[5] as being out of keeping with modern times and giving the impression that Members of Parliament were a privileged class. The Committee commended the expression "rights and immunities" and the substitution of "contempt" for "breach of privilege". I do not think that the reasons given for these innovations are persuasive on either linguistic or historical grounds. Neither by derivation from "privilegium", nor in intelligent common usage, does "privilege"—in the sense of a power exercised as an adjunct of a specific ro®le, office or status—carry in itself any implication of invidious or unmerited power or reward (though of course it is possible for privileges to be unmerited). One might as well object to the titles of select committees on the ground that they sound intolerably exclusive. The suggested alternative phrases are also inappropriate in that the contempt jurisdiction of the House, as matters stand, is wider than and not equivalent to the power to punish breaches of the existing heads of privilege and a change of usage could also cause further linguistic complications since privileged words and occasions would have to be awkwardly renamed "immunised" words or occasions (or in the absence of absolute privilege, "semi-" or "partially-immunised" words). Qualified and absolute privilege are familiar in other parts of the law and they are useful terms in which to discuss the extent to which speech and proceedings in Parliament should be protected. The qualified privilege that now attaches to publication of newspaper reports of parliamentary proceedings in fact carries the sense of privilege. The adoption of a new vocabulary would also complicate historic discussion of parliamentary procedure, since it would be necessary to switch back and forth from one set of terms to another when discussing earlier and later events in the history of Parliament. Convenience and common sense, therefore, suggest leaving the present terminology alone. They also suggest that it would be inadvisable to attempt to codify the entire body of law and custom relating to parliamentary privilege.

3.  ARTICLE 9 OF THE BILL OF RIGHTS: ITS PRIMARY PURPOSE AND APPLICATION

  Despite its historical importance as a constitutional landmark there are grounds for arguing that Article 9 should be amended or reframed, given the legal uncertainties that now surround the expressions "impeached or questioned" and "any place out of Parliament". Freedom of speech or debate itself is also a concept whose ambit is unclear and has evolved through time. The freedom of debate claimed by the Commons and confirmed in the Bill of Rights was intended to secure that members should have (in words of the Commons resolution of 1621) "freedom from all impeachment, imprisonment or molestation, other than by censure of the House itself, for or concerning any Bill, speaking or reasoning or declaring of any matter touching the Parliament business"[6].

  The members were not to be at risk of accusations of seditious libel or prosecution by the Crown. Now that the threat from the Crown has vanished, except in the scarcely conceivable form of a prosecution at the instance of the Attorney-General for criminal libel or blasphemy or contempt of court or breach of the Official Secrets Act or incitement to racial hatred, it could well be asked whether in addition to protection from criminal prosecution by the executive there should continue to be absolute protection against civil actions by citizens who believe themselves to be wronged by words spoken in debate or in written matter published by order of the House (the latter enjoying absolute privilege under the Parliamentary Papers Act of 1840). Members of elected bodies in local government do not enjoy absolute privilege for words spoken in Council chambers but seem to have been adequately protected by the availability of qualified privilege as a defence against defamation actions. As to written matter, the absolute protection of the offical reports of debates and of reports published by order of the House does not extend to publication outside the House of members' speeches, either by themselves or by others, in the press or broadcasting organisations. In the latter case a qualified protection is provided by the Defamation Act of 1952. At common law qualified privilege for fair and accurate reporting is only lost if it can be shown that a report was published maliciously. [7]



  Some doubt exists also as to the impact on Article 9 of subsequent legislation. In 1958 the Privy Council had to consider the implications for libel suits of the Parliamentary Privilege Act of 1770 which provided that no action or suit against a Member of Parliament should "at any time be impeached, stayed or delayed by or under colour or pretence of any privilege of Parliament". The Privy Council advised that this could not be intended to refer to actions or suits in respect of words or conduct in the House. [8]Lord Denning has, however, since published his dissenting opinion in which he argued persuasively that the 1770 Act meant what it said. An action for defamation would not succeed because of the provision in Article 9 when it reached the courts, but the House's punitive power to prevent the issue of a writ against members had been removed by the 1770 legislation. [9]

  Whatever Article 9 may have been intended to mean in 1689, its words cannot in all respects be read literally today. The prohibition on questioning or impeaching proceedings in "any place out of Parliament", for example, could not now be taken to deny the rights of citizens or newspapers to examine or question or criticise the speeches or legislative actions of members. [10]Indeed, if none of those things could really be done in any place out of Parliament, the right of citizens to criticise their representatives would be non-existent. Nor does questioning or criticism of parliamentary activity before tribunals of inquiry or inquisitions such as that conducted by Lord Justice Scott now seem to produce any objection on privilege grounds. So if there is no preceived threat to the free working of Parliament in challenge or criticism of parliamentary proceedings in the press or before tribunals, one might wonder why Parliament or its members should be in danger if criticism of parliamentary speech or behaviour is made in courts of law in proceedings other than those directly aimed at penalising speech and debate that are forbidden by Article 9.

  It may be significant also that what Article 9 protects from questioning or impeachment is not speech and debates in Parliament but "the freedom of speech and debates". The constitutional interpretation of rules guaranteeing freedom of speech now has a long history and in all jurisdictions in the present century it has produced a consensus that freedom of speech in any of its manifestations is never absolute. A constitutional free speech guarantee, whether it occurs in legislation or in a Bill of Rights, is therefore not inconsistent with reasonable limitations which are generally regarded as properly constraining and not infringing freedom of expression. So there might now be nothing bizarre in arguing that the application to members of the restraints on speech implied in a properly framed defamation law would not amount to an impeachment or improper questioning or violation of the free speech guarantee conferred on members by the Bill of Rights. The correlative protection most obviously appropriate to such restraint would be the availability of a defence of qualified privilege that could only be overcome by a showing of recklessness or malice. If the references to impeaching and questioning in Article 9 were replaced by a statutory provision to the effect that no prosecution for any criminal offence should be commenced in respect of anything contained in the debates or proceedings of either House, such a provision would be faithful to the major historical objective of the Article which was to protect members from the danger of being charged by the Executive with crimes against the State. However, when the House has encouraged members to use the courts rather than invoke the House's penal jurisdiction in cases of alleged defamation, [11]it is not easy to justify a situation in which citizens are debarred entirely from seeking remedies in the courts against members of Parliament, however reckless or malicious their statements may be. (The same point could be made about the absolute protection provided under the Parliamentary Papers Act of 1840.[12]) If the law were expressly changed to substitute qualified privilege for absolute immunity, the burden of showing malice or recklessness could be put on the plaintiff and obviously would be difficult to discharge. Fear of litigation is understandable. But ministers and members are not pursued by litigants outside the House, where they have no privilege either absolute or qualified. So it is hard to see why they would be a more tempting target inside the House where their privilege would be substantial.



  A significant advantage that might be gained from a slight lowering of the protective wall around members is that its reach could be extended. It would facilitate a definition of proceedings in Parliament that could extend more widely to activities such as the letter written to the minister in the Strauss case. The widest understanding of the term would be one that gave protection to whatever was done by a member in the exercise of his office as a Member of Parliament.[13]. But whilst proceedings are protected by absolute rather than qualified immunity it is difficult to support the case for extending it beyond a protection related to parliamentary business and procedure.

4.  ARTICLE 9: ITS EXTENDED INTERPRETATION

  A further pressing question about Article 9 is its collateral expansion exemplified by the Privy Council's broad interpretation of Article 9 in Prebble v. Television New Zealand. [14]That case is hard to reconcile with some recent British judicial acknowledgements that not every kind of judicial examination of parliamentary proceedings constitutes a challenge to, or questioning of, the members' right to free debate. If a Member of Parliament institutes libel proceedings against a citizen, what is in dispute is an issue arising outside Parliament and it is not obvious that the purpose of Article 9 is being frustrated if the citizen is permitted to defend himself by referring to, or even criticising, the members' statements or conduct in the House. This was essentially the conclusion reached in Australia before it was overturned by the intervention of the Federal Parliament in the Australian Parliamentary Privilege Act of 1987. In R. v. Murphy, [15]Hunt, J. held that Article 9 had only the effect of preventing what has been said or done in Parliament from being itself the subject of criminal or civil actions in the courts. It did not prevent proceedings in Parliament from being used as evidence of an offence committed elsewhere. The public interest in ensuring that relevant evidence is available to the courts is not incompatible with the public interest in the proper exercise of its powers by the legislature.

5.  A GENERAL EVIDENTIAL PROVISION

  The wider interpretation of Article 9 adopted in Prebble restricts the giving of evidence in a range of cases not confined to defamation. The unattractive ad hoc remedy of section 13 of the Defamation Act seems to need replacement by a general provision that permits the giving of evidence about parliamentary proceedings in all cases that do not involve the direct protective function of Article 9. They may include criminal cases involving offences such as bribery or assault and a range of issues arising under statutes applicable within each House related, for example, to welfare, health and safety or unfair dismissal.

  A general evidentiary provision would remove in a more satisfactory way the difficulty experienced it the Hamilton case when it was held on the authority of Prebble that the defendants being sued by a member whom they accused of taking bribes in return for putting down parliamentary questions, could not be permitted to raise a defence that referred to the member's action in Parliament. [16]The general evidentiary provision replacing section 13 could be enacted to read "Where the conduct of a person in relation to proceedings in Parliament is in issue in any court or tribunal no rule of law or parliamentary privilege shall apply to prevent evidence being given, questions being asked or statements, submissions or comments or findings being made about his conduct". A proviso should be retained, preserving the protection conferred by Article 9 in its direct application as articulated in R. v. Murphy (perhaps to the effect that nothing in the enactment "should affect any rule of law so far as it protects a person by providing absolute or limited immunity from legal liability for words spoken or things done in the course of any proceeding in Parliament"). The present subsection of section 13 of the Defamation Act listing a number of matters included in, or incidental to, "proceedings in Parliament" could also usefully be retained. (That sub-section does not purport to be a comprehensive definition of proceedings in Parliament and an exhaustive enumeration would be impractical. Questions such as which proceedings are related to the business of the House or what activities are connected with the duties of members or when matters arising within the House's physical confines are related to its business are best left to adjudication as cases arise.)


 6.  BRIBERY OF MEMBERS

  It is not clear why in a case involving alleged bribery of a member in relation to his parliamentary conduct, evidence of proceedings in Parliament should be necessary. Its tendency, if offered by the prosecution, would generally only be to show that the bribery had been successful. But if evidence is available that a bribe has been offered and taken, the relevant criminal act relates to a matter external to Parliament. In the United States the Speech and Debate Clause of Article 1 of the Constitution (which closely follows the wording of Article 9 of the Bill of Rights) has not prevented inquiry into whether a former Senator has accepted a bribe in return for action in the Senate. In US v. Brewster it was said that:

    Taking a bribe is obviously no part of the legislative process or function. It is not a legislative act. It is not by any conceivable interpretation an act performed as a part of, or even incidental to, the ro®le of a legislator. Nor is inquiry into a legislative act or the motivation for a legislative act necessary to a prosecution . . . . When a bribe is taken it does not matter whether the promise for which the bribe was taken was for the performance of a legislative act . . . . In other words it is the fact of having taken the bribe, not the act which the bribe is intended to influence which is the subject of the prosecution and the Speech and Debate clause interposes no obstacle to this type of prosecution. [17]

  Even if evidence is led by either side in order to confirm or refute guilty motivation by examination of what has been said in Parliament, it is clear that the criminal charge in a bribery case is not directed at the parliamentary speech but at the exernal corrupt behaviour for which it may provide in some circumstances confirmatory or exculpatory evidence. Such charges do not, therefore, infringe the absolute immunity conferred by Article 9 of the Bill of Rights from prosecution aimed at speech or debate.

  Whether legislation is necessary to make bribery of members a criminal offence depends on whether it is correct to say (as the 1976 Commission on Standards in Public Life did) that Parliament does not come within the scope of the Public Bodies Corrupt Practices Act of 1889. The relevance of the latter Prevention of Corruption legislation, such as that of 1916 which extended the definition of "public body" to "local and public authorities of all descriptions" does not seem to have been considered. Assumedly, Parliament is a public authority of some description. Since the common law is available[18] and since evidence of what has passed in Parliament should either not be needed for a successful prosecution, or if needed, it could be given under a general evidentiary provision, further legislation as to the substantive offence might be unnecessary. However, if amendment of the Prevention of Corruption legislation is thought necessary for other reasons it would do no harm to include both Houses within the definition of "public body" for purposes of that legislation.

7.  EXCLUSIVE COGNISANCE OF PROCEEDINGS

  The right to exclusive cognisance of proceedings in Parliament is a general claim of which that made in Article 9 of the Bill of Rights is a particular instance. Insofar as it encompasses the right to decide its own procedure and to punish its own members for breaches of its rules, the power claimed could be said to be reasonably incidental to the functions of a legislative body. However, it may be questioned whether it can still be defended in its wider formulations, such as "the right of the House to be the judge of its own proceedings", or in the often-quoted proposition of Blackstone that "whatever matter arises concerning either House of Parliament ought to be examined, discussed and adjudicated in that House to which it relates and not elsewhere".[19]



  A striking corollary of the wider principle is seen in dicta to the effect that for certain purposes the House "can practically change or practically supersede the law" and that "the House of Commons is not subject to the control of Her Majesty's courts in its administration of that part of the statute law which has relation to its own internal proceedings".[20] If "internal proceedings" means the essential business of the House, the proposition is narrower than Blackstone's. Clearly, some matters arising in the House, such as criminal activity, or infringements of the provisions of regulatory statutes of general application are not relevant to its proceedings or essential functions. [21]Even if the claim of exclusive cognisance is to exclude the jurisdiction of the courts in all matters pertaining to the House's legislative or other functions, it is not a claim that can now be made unequivocally. There could be instances in which resolutions of the House or the conduct of its committees raise constitutional issues on which independent adjudication could not be avoided. It is true that neither House of Parliament is for purposes of the Human Rights Bill a public authority; nor is any person exercising functions in connection with proceedings in Parliament. But those provisions will not necessarily be conclusive for purposes of the European Human Rights Convention if it were alleged that a committee or the House had infringed its provisions.

8.  THE CONTEMPT JURISDICTION

  Human rights issues may now be relevant to the particular claim of the House to exercise exclusive jurisdiction in the punishment of contempt. Two questions arise: (1) Should provision be made for adjudication in the courts of alleged contempts committed by non-members (as was provided for disputed election petitions by the Parliamentary Elections Act of 1868)? And (2) should an attempt be made to codify the offences that constitute contempt of the House?

  The case for judicial arbitration was made to the Select Committee on Parliamentary Privilege in 1967. [22]The argument was essentially that determination by the House of complaints of contempt allegedly committed against itself or its members by outsiders amounts to a denial of natural justice, in the absence of any right to legal representation or avenue of appeal against the verdict, and the non-availability of any defence of justification. [23]That view might now be thought to receive some support from the terms of Article 6 of the European Convention which provides that "in determination of his civil rights and obligations, or of any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law."

  Clearly, any use of a judicial process would require (as in the United States) the enactment of a contempt statute and raises the question whether contempts should be enumerated or defined in general terms. A partial or non-exhaustive enumeration of the most serious forms of contemptuous action might be possible. The most serious forms of contempt are intimidatory acts that may be regarded either as varieties of contempt or as breaches of the disputed privilege of freedom from molestation. [24]Intimidation or molestation covers a number of activities. They would include:

    (1)  Actual physical assaults or violent intimidation;

    (2)  Threats of assault or violence;

    (3)  Physical, though non-violent, obstruction;

    (4)  Threats of future penalties or legal action;

    (5)  Intimidatory denunciations or threats of exposure or adverse publicity;

    (6)  Bribes or financial inducements;

    (7)  Political pressures or threats of electoral or constituency action.

  However, since not every activity falling within these categories, particularly (5) and (7) would in all circumstances be indisputably contemptuous, and since they are not exhaustive of the heads of contempt listed in Erskine May there is much to be said for simply enacting a statutory definition of contempt based upon the general description given in Erskine May, namely an act "obstructing or having a direct tendency to obstruct either House in the execution of its functions". It would be advisable to exclude any reference to acts having an indirect tendency to obstruct the House and in particular to rule out what have traditionally been called constructive contempts by speech or writing that allegedly bring the House or its members into disrepute. These, if not serious enough to be libellous or seditious, should be left alone.



  The adoption of legislation should not be designed to remove the Houses' jurisdiction to punish contempts committed against them. It should be framed to make resort to the judicial process available in such cases as either House deems necessary. One would expect a strong convention to develop favouring its use in disputed cases involving non-members. In the United States, the statute of 1857[25] is regarded as merely supplementary to the Congressional contempt power. "Congress could not divest itself or either of its Houses of the essential and inherent power to punish for contempt in cases to which the power of either House properly extended; and because Congress, by the Act of 1857 sought to aid each of the Houses in discharge of its constitutional function, it does not follow that any delegation of the power in each to punish for contempt was involved".[26]

  The contempt power of each House of Parliament is essential and should be retained, not least for the discipline of its own Members. In the last resort the power to enforce its authority against ministers or to support the requirements of committees that are given powers to send for persons and papers depends upon the fact that ministers are members of the House who could ultimately be held in contempt or expelled in the exercise of the House's powers.

SUMMARY

  1.  The term "parliamentary privilege" should not be abolished and no attempt should be made to codify the law and custom of Parliament relating to privilege.

  2.  The reference to "impeaching and questioning" in "any court or place outside Parliament" in Article 9 of the Bill of Rights should be replaced by a more specific legislative provision protecting members from the institution of criminal (or civil) proceedings directed against and attaching criminal (or civil) liability to anything said or done in the course of debates and proceedings in either House.

  3.  There is a case for reviewing absolute immunity in civil proceedings for defamation and replacing it by a provision that would attach privilege to words spoken or published without malice or recklessness by a member of either House, with the burden of proving malice or recklessness being placed on the plaintiff (thus confining absolute immunity in 2 above to criminal proceedings).

  4.  If proposal 3 were adopted, consideration should be given to extending the scope of proceedings in Parliament to include anything said or done by a member in the exercise of his office as a member of either House, whether done in the House or outside it.

  5.  Section 13 of the Defamation Act 1996 should be repealed and consideration given to the enactment of a general provision permitting evidence to be given about the conduct of members or other persons concerned in proceedings in Parliament, subject to the provisions (referred to in 2 and 3 above) directly conferring absolute or limited immunity on participation in debates and proceedings.

  6.  Consideration should be given to legislation permitting reference to a court of disputed cases involving alleged contempt of either House by non-members. The legislation should embody a general definition of contempt and should exclude constructive contempts by speech or writing. It should not remove the power of either House itself to commit for contempt either members or non-members, or diminish the power of either House to discipline or expel its members.

April 1998


1   There is a succinct account of parliamentary immunity in France in Pierre Avril and Jean Gicquel, Droit parlementaire. Editions Monchrestein, Paris 2nd ed. 1996. Back

2   Hatsell, Precedents of Proceedings in the House of Commons (1796) Vol. 1, p.1. Back

3   Kielley v. Carson 4 Moo. P.C. 63. Back

4   See Anderson v. Dunn 6 Wheat (19 U.S.) 204 (1821); McGrain v. Daugherty 273 U.S. 135 (1927). Penal power over its own members is given to each House by Article 1 section 5 of the Constitution. Back

5   H.C. 34 (1967) para. 14. Back

6   Hatsell, vol. 1 p. 79 (italics added). Back

7   Wason v. Walter [1868] L.R. 4 Q.B. 73. Back

8   Re. Parliamentary Privilege Act 1770 [1958] A.C. 331. Back

9   See his memorandum "The Strauss Case" [1985] Public Law 80. Back

10   See Lord Browne-Wilkinson's remarks in Pepper v. Hart [1992] 3 W.L.R. 1032 at 1060. Back

11   Report of the Select Committee on Parliamentary Privilege H.C. 34 (1967) page xvii. Back

12   In Doe v. McMillan 412 U.S. 306 (1973) the United States Supreme Court held that in disseminating allegedly defamatory reports of a Congressional investigation the Government Printer did not enjoy absolute immunity under the Speech and Debate clause, and was protected only to the extent the report served legitimate legislative functions. C.F. Hutchinson v. Proxmire 443 U.S. 111 (1979) in which it was held that a Senator was not protected from a defamation suit in circulating a press release containing the text of a speech made by him in the Senate. Back

13   Not that this phrase is absolutely clear in its meaning, even as to activities within the physical confines of Westminster. Is a member exercising his functions when, for example, he seeks information or requests a book in the library? Does it matter whether the book is Erskine May or a British rail timetable? Back

14   [1995] 1 A.C. 321. Back

15   (1986) 5 N.S.W.L.R. 18. Back

16   C.f. Allason v. Haines, The Times 25 July, 1995, where the member's action was stayed on the same ground, when the defendants wished to criticise his actions in putting down early day motions in the House. Back

17   408 US 501 (1972). The case contrasts with US v Johnson 383 US 169 (1966) in which the Speech and Debate clause was held to protect a Congressman who had taken money for speaking in Congress in favour of certain interests. The prosecution failed because the speech itself was charged as part of a conspiracy. When later charged with violating a conflict of interest statute, the Congressman was convicted. Back

18   The statute and common law background is set out in Graham Zellick "Bribery of Members of Parliament and the Criminal Law" [1979] Public Law 31. Back

19   Commentaries on the Law of England Vol 1.162 (quoting Coke 4 Inst 15). Back

20   Bradlaugh v. Gossett (1884) 12 QBD 271 at 273, 4; 278. Back

21   A point pertinently made in Sir Alan Herbert's "Crime in the Commons", in which, on the authority of R v Graham-Campbell ex p Herbert, members are pictured organising illegal lotteries, selling obscene books and fighting duels in the smoking room (Rex v Haddock). Uncommon Law 414. Compare the circumstances of Gravel v. United States (408 US 606 (1972) at 626) in which the Supreme Court upheld the right of a grand jury to investigate the behaviour within the Senate of a member who had used his privileges to obtain and publish classified documents. The Court held that the Speech and Debate clause does not privilege a Senator or aide to violate an otherwise valid criminal law in preparing for or implementing legislative acts. Back

22   See HC 34 (1967) p 187, Memorandum of the Study of Parliament Group (drafted by the present writer but not viewed favourably by the Committee). Back

23   The offence is treated as analogous to a criminal libel. See the memorandum on "Justification in Cases of Breach of Privilege" by Mr L A Abraham. Report from the Select Committee on Parliamentary Privilege. HC 34, (1967) at p 133. Back

24   Its existence was doubted in 1967 and the Committee recommended that the expression "freedom from molestation" be discontinued. (See para 112 of the Report HC 34 (1967) p xxi). Back

25   Now 2 U.S.C.  192. Back

26   In re Chapman 166 U.S. 661, 671/2 (1897). Back


 
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