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Parliamentary Privilege

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 28th June 2011.

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Photo of Stephen Phillips Stephen Phillips Conservative, Sleaford and North Hykeham 2:30 pm, 28th June 2011

What recent representations he has received on the breach of court orders by those entitled to assert parliamentary privilege.

Photo of Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Clarke The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice

We have received correspondence from a number of hon. Members on behalf of their constituents, raising issues relating to privacy and the use of anonymity injunctions and super-injunctions. In some instances this has included reference to statements made in Parliament concerning the identity of individuals who have obtained injunctions.

Photo of Stephen Phillips Stephen Phillips Conservative, Sleaford and North Hykeham

I am grateful to the Lord Chancellor for that answer. He will share my concerns, and those expressed by the Lord Chief Justice, at the recent breaches of court orders by Members of this House, and indeed Members of the other place. The rule of law and the separation of powers require that we observe the self-denying ordinances to which we are subject, so may I ask whether my right hon. and learned Friend intends to have any discussions with the Speakers of both Houses on the subject, and if so, what the nature of those discussions will be?

Photo of Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Clarke The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice

This is obviously a point of concern. I agree that essentially it should be a matter for both Houses of Parliament, and Members of both Houses, to address themselves. As a parliamentarian as well as a member of the Government, I defend absolutely the rules of parliamentary privilege, but we have to consider whether it is a proper use of parliamentary privilege to defy court orders. I hope that the matter will be urgently addressed, as we all have to come to some conclusions on it.