Parliament: Committee of Privileges

Back

Parliament: Committee of Privileges

Parliament: Committee of Privileges.

H.M. 

V. diff. & important.
A.G.'s view:  main ques. if no breach of privilege, no action open.
Believe him to be wrong on this.  Not necessary to take the point wtr. it was ques. of privilege.  Disgraceful conduct is judgmt. of H/C. - even on misdemeanour     (cf. Bottomley)  it's not automatic on conviction.
Party mtg: may be privileged if related to specific piece of Parly. business.  This wasn't & unwise to claim it.
Dangers of going too far - a) don't want it extended to to smaller mtgs   b) don't want to exclude courts c) might be a duty to disclose somethg. scandalous.
Fasten therefore on the money & hold it's disgraceful conduct.

P.M. 

Any precedent for disgraceful conduct apart from a conviction?

H.M. 

Believe so.

R.S.C. 

Must be conduct as a Member.

H.M. 

Yes, but not in relation to performing duties as a Member.

A.B. 

Articles openly published in own name wd. not be disgraceful.

H.M. 

A.G.'s case is based on Sandys.  But that was in reln to specific piece of Parly. business. Argument for not penalising journalists is that they  aren't M.P.'s. But House shd. warn them for the future.  Motion in para. 14.
To lay down the doctrine. Limitation of Cttee's function.  Think they are takg.  too narrow a view of their functions.  Wise therefore to remove doubts, as in  16. Tho' original Motion has gone too far.

J. 

V. diff. point.  Don't think disclosure of Party mtg. is breach/privilege. If no  such breach, is his dishon. conduct in his capacity as M.P? V. diff:  but  inclined to say "yes". Much to be said for being content with reprimand - in  view of doubt & diffy.

R.S.C. 

Para. 13 Motion.  First part is clear - affront to House. Second:   this is not  offence with wh. he has bn. accused & hasn't had opportunity to answer.  It  is a 2nd breach not yet tried by Cttee.  Cttee shd. have come back to H/C. &  reported the further offence.

H.M. 

Many precedents - offence to give misleadg. evce. Cttee saw him again & he  had chance to clear himself with them. Can also spk. to H/C.

R.S.C. 

Then put it as aggravation of 1st offence, not as 2nd substantive offence.
Third:   "informn about Parly. matters" v. wide.  Oblign of confidence not to Parlt.  Was to Party.  Wd. apply if this is correct.  Wasn't disclosure about Parly. matters. Better therefore say this man has not behaved as a M.P. should.

A.B. 

It is the clandestine sale that matters.  He obtd informn qua M.P. & sold it clandestinely to a newspp.

R.S.C. 

Accusn shd. be obtaing. informn fr. other M.P.'s - that is why it is conduct "tending to destroy mutual confidence betwn. M.P.'s." Substitute "from other M.P.'s" for "about Parly. matters".

H.M. 

That wd. apply to informn about Derby winner obtd from one M.P. by another.

A.W. 

Isn't anything breach/privilege which obstructs Members in doing their duty  - incldg. fear of being betrayed to Press.

P.M. 

Goes much too far.  Wd. apply to ridiculing a man in his own constituency.

A.B. 

Add:  "from other Members in his capacity as a Member."

R.S.C. 

After Allighan, "in his capacity as a Member corruptly accepted payment for the disclosure of informn obtained from other Members of Parlt. under the oblign of confidence."

J. 

That wd. open discn wtr. this was in his capacity as a Member.

R.S.C. 

So wd. "about Parly matters" - and on less secure ground.

H.M. 

Will consider part 3 in light of discussion.

A.B. 

Second para.  Is it wise to press this?  X-examn by K.C.'s on Cttee.  He had  no legal defence.

R.S.C. 

Wdn't matter if had told the truth.

A.B. 

H/C. doesn't like persecution of individual Member.

H.M. 

This is clearest point of all.
Penalties.      Allighan.

H.M. 

There will be strong feeling in favour of at least suspension. Must distinguish in favour of Walkden.  Reprimand & severe reprimand doesn't mark distinction enough. Suspension fr. now till Easter recess is about right.
Likely to be criticised as too light.

N.B. 

Make penalty as stiff as poss.

R.S.C. 

Short of suspension, will be laughing stock.

A.B. 

Public exposure is enough. Suspension penalises the constituency.

G.T. 

Opinion in constituencies - much shaken by this.  Must make an example of him.  Must mark enormity of his offence.  Shall lose public confidence otherwise.
Agreed:  Severely reprimand and suspend, without salary.
                  A.B. protesting.
Walkden.

H.M. 

Reprimand wd. be enough.

P.M. 

Is W. guilty at all?  Cttee put it on b/privilege.

H.M. 

We shd. have to put it on "3rd para." grounds. No motion before us yet.

N.B. 

W. has bn. on dangerous courses.  Tried to get contract for firm incldg. his son - & threatened me, when at Air Ministry. Needs a severe shock.
Agreed:  Reprimand only.

Heighway.
Cab. Paper: copies to A.G. before debate.         Approve - reprimand.
Clk to H/C. after debate.                         Paras. 14 and 16 approved.
(P.M. to settle)

Taken from C.M. 82(47)(2) - Meeting held on 23 October 1947.