Skip to main content

The rights to communicate with members of parliament

There have been discussions about whether there is a domestic precedent whereby the right to talk to MPs about issues of public interest is protected by parliament. This already happens in Australia.

The following case from the parliamentary journals in 1699 is exactly that. John Kelly provided information about malpractise to a number of MPs. That was not provided as part of a petition, but merely as a summary of a problem. He was then jailed. Parliament investigated the situation.

That is the stage I have reached with my request for parliament to investigate hyperinjunctions.

There are other examples from the 1600s and 1700s on my flickr account and a summary follows the image.
kellydetails

Parliamentary Privilege has been primarily applied to protect members. That is because most actions which would be in contempt of parliament will directly affect members. There are, however, a number of instances where non-members have been protected by parliamentary privilege.

The use of privilege to protect witnesses at Committees is well known. However, there have also been a number of cases where parliamentary privilege has been used to protect non-members who are providing information to Parliamentarians. Documentary evidence from the parliamentary journals is attached.

In 1624 the Master of the Felt-makers was arrested whilst attending The House to prefer a petition. The House considered he had protection of the house to prefer the petition and established a committee to consider whether the arrest itself was a breach of privilege. (I 766)

In 1696 Thomas Kemp and other Hackney Coachmen were arrested as a consequence of proceedings by Richard Gee, a Commissioner of Hackney Coaches. The House concluded that Mr Gee was guilty of a breach of Privilege and guilty of a high misdemeanor and was to be imprisoned by the Serjeant. (XI 599, 699)

In 1699 John Kelly was imprisoned in consequence of having given Members and abstract of several articles against the Commissioners of Victualling. That was referred to the privileges committee (XIII 224)

There have also been many actions to protect letters written to Members and from Members from being opened or diverted. In 1666 Edward Roberts was imprisoned for trying to charge for letters. In 1689 a case was referred relating to Hull. In 1689 it was resolved that “breaking open Letters directed to or sent from Members is a breach of Privilege;”

What is important about this is that it demonstrates that private communication between citizens (or subjects) and members of parliament does have a limited privilege. Any attempts to prevent this communication are, therefore, a Contempt of Parliament.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Millionaires and politics

The Labour Party spent most of the last election criticising me for being a successful businessman (aka millionaire). That is business in the private sector employing over 250 people. It is worth looking at the situation for the Labour Candidate now:

For the year 2016-7 Annual Income from Parliament74,962Specifically for her book51,250Other media income etc5,322.82Total declared income131,534.82

Traditionally anyone with an annual income of over £100,000 has been considered to be a millionaire. I did not use my position in parliament to increase my income.


I have been asked for sources for this. This BBC piece looks at how one should define rich. It was written in 2011 so the figures will be slightly out of date. There are perhaps 2 relevant pieces:
"In 1880 a rich person would have had £100,000 in assets or an income of £10,000 a year, he says. About a hundred people a year died leaving £100,000 and by 1910 this was 250 - "a microscopic fraction of the number of death…

Homelessness vs Selling Books

Candidates in elections tend to find themselves very busy with lots of things to do.  It is, therefore, necessary to prioritise things to ensure that the important things are dealt with.

To me the issue of homelessness and rough sleeping is an important issue.  Therefore, when Birmingham's Faith Leaders group contacted me to ask me what I would propose and whether I would work with them to make things better I was pleased to respond with my views and indicate that I would work with them after the election.

The Faith Leaders Group (Bishops and other religious leaders in Birmingham) have now sent out their report.

Sadly, according to their report,  I was the only candidate for Yardley to respond.  The group in their report said:

"Particularly disappointing was the lack of response from some of those candidates seeking re-election as MP for their respective constituencies."
It is worth looking at the priorities of my opponent.
Interestingly today she has decided to be at th…

Gender Issues comparison of candidates

John Hemming believes that an MP should represent everyone in their constituency.  This should be regardless of their race, religion, gender, abledness, sexual orientation or anything else.  It should be everyone.

When he was an MP he worked on issues relating to men, those relating to women and those relating to non-binary people. Everyone.

For example here is John Hemming on a demonstration outside the courts with the campaign group Women Against Rape (it related to the case of a mother who had her child removed from her because the mother was raped).




Jess Phillips, who campaigns on women's issues, notwithstanding the questions asked about her appointments in her parliamentary office, had the following response when asked for a debate on issues specifically relating to men: