Memorandum by the Trade Union Side of
the House of Commons Whitley Committee
The Trade Union Side of the House of Commons
Whitley Committee welcomes the chance of commenting on the issue
of parliamentary privilege. Our comments are set out below and
are written on behalf of the unionised staff of the House of Commons.
The employment of persons by the House of Commons
should be unambiguously outside the scope of privilege and of
privileged status, so that they enjoy full protection under employment,
health and safety etc legislation on no worse basis as any other
2. LEGAL PROTECTION
A member of staff acting reasonably in execution
of his/her duty should have the same protection as a Member of
Parliament. This is necessary to allow a proper service to members
to be discharged. For example, a Library researcher briefing a
Member on an alleged fraud, whether in connection with a Question,
Motion or constituency case, should be protected from actions
against her/him in respect of any oral or written briefing given;
a clerk advising a Select Committee against an action resulting
from anything supplied to the Committee. It would be useful to
move from certain categories of staff having protection (ie Officers
of the House, although we realise the courts would probably interpret
"officer" already as meaning any staff member) to categories
of activities that are protected whoever carries them out. These
activities would have to be carried out in the service of the
House and would have to be clearly defined.
Members of staff should be included in any resolution
about bribery of Members of Parliament. For example, it would
be as much an offence to bribe a member of staff as a Member.
We hope that the Joint Committee will find these
comments helpful and would welcome the chance to meet members
of the Committee to discuss them in greater detail, if necessary.
30 January 1998