The issue of privilege

Lord Norton

44044As many students of Parliament – and certainly those who work within the institution – will know, the libraries of both Houses produce some excellent research papers and briefing notes. 

Those interested in obtaining some objective and invaluable background information on the issue of parliamentary privilege – which has come to the fore in the the case concerning Conservative MP Damian Green – should find extremely helpful the Standard Note produced by the Commons’ Library on ‘Parliamentary privilege and individual Members’:

It includes useful detail on the various cases where the issue of privilege has arisen. 

Given that the current controversy has arisen as a consequence of the police relying on the common law offence of misconduct in public office, the Library has also produced a helpful note on the recent use of the offence in prosecutions (the data are revealing) and proposals to place the offence on a statutory footing:

For those interested in seeing the range of topics covered by each Library, the lists of papers can be found at:

2 comments for “The issue of privilege

  1. Matt Korris
    07/12/2008 at 10:54 am

    Readers may also interested in the Parliament and the Constitution Centre in the House of Commons Library which produces research papers and data under the headings: Central Government, Constitution, Crown, Devolution, Elections, Parliament, and Political Parties.

    Matt Korris
    Hansard Society

  2. Senex
    08/12/2008 at 7:53 pm

    On the BBC Parliament Channel today I watched the Commons debate the issues of privilege in Parliament. The government won the day at the Speakers expense.

    What I think I saw was Parliament reduced and diminished by the will of an ochlocracy reinforced by an invisible 3-line whip? There will be many MPs this day that will feel ill at ease with what has happened.

    The good news is that a committee made up entirely of New Labour MPs will at some point in the future form the basis of a protocol that will come into play whenever the issue of privilege arises and the Jurisprudence of Common Law meets the exclusive cognisance or jurisdiction of Parliament.

    Perhaps we should all reflect on the words and political philosophy of Thomas Jefferson when he describes democracy as mob rule.

    Ref: Ochlocracy: Terminology para 2
    The whip as a party line: para 1 three-line whip
    Thomas Jefferson on Mob Rule para 3

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