The link is to Hansard in which the following exchange occurred
Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield) (Lab): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I seek your advice on a point of order of which I have given you notice. As you know, robust debate is in the nature of politics and no one, least of all you, would want to inhibit that. However, I hope that you agree with me that there is an important distinction to be made between matters of argument and the deliberate misreporting outside this place of proceedings within it, including the doctoring of quotes from Hansard and the invention of votes by hon. Members on motions that were never moved.
My point of order, Mr. Speaker, is to say that that is what has been happening in Birmingham, where a Conservative councillor, Peter Douglas Osborn, distributed a leaflet misreporting a Hansard quote from the Minister for E-Commerce, Energy and Postal Services in respect of the Post Office urban reinvention programme. You will also be aware that Councillor Douglas Osborn, together with Liberal Democrat Councillor Holtom, has written to a third party alleging that I voted against a motion that did not exist regarding a post office in my constituency. Those documents follow allegations made by the leader of the Liberal Democrats on the city council in leaflets distributed in my constituency, also alleging that I and other Labour colleagues voted for a number of propositions concerning local post offices that were never put to this House.
May I therefore seek your advice, Mr. Speaker, on what can be done to protect the integrity of the parliamentary record and to safeguard the reputations of hon. Members of all parties against those who seek to falsify them?
Mr. Speaker: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving me advance notice of his point of order. He has raised a significant matter, which should be of concern to the whole House.
On 16 July 1971, the House resolved not to entertain any complaint of contempt or breach of privilege in respect of the publication of its debates or proceedings, but that resolution in no way removed the constraints on those who, for whatever reason, choose to misrepresent the proceedings of the House or to publish false or misleading reports of our debates.
As "Erskine May" makes clear, since at least 1699 the House has regarded the misrepresentation of its proceedings not only as a contempt, but as
"destructive of the freedom of Parliament".
Nothing in the 1971 resolution alters that view.
I can therefore advise the hon. Gentleman and the House that the deliberate or reckless misrepresentation of the debates and proceedings of the House is potentially a contempt of the House, against which the House may wish to proceed. Moreover, those who act in this way are unlikely to be protected in the courts by the unqualified privilege which normally attaches to the reporting of our proceedings.
I am sure the that House will take a serious view of the situation if the conduct which the hon. Gentleman has described continues.
The issue was that various Labour MPs have voted for funds to go to Post Office to close post offices.
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