Parliament: Freedom of Speech and the Rule of Law - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 1:47 pm on 23rd May 2019.

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Photo of Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood Chair, Sub-Committee on Lords' Conduct 1:47 pm, 23rd May 2019

My Lords, I have three very brief comments; I am conscious of the fact that there are aeroplanes and trains to be caught. First, I give huge thanks to all noble Lords who have spoken in this high-quality debate. Not least, I am grateful to the non-lawyers who have spoken. This is partly because their view on the conflicting interests in play is particularly valuable and partly because I suspect that they have had to do even more homework to prepare their contributions than the lawyers who have spoken.

Secondly, the noble Lord, Lord Hain, and one or two other noble Lords suggested that what he did here was justifiable. This heightens my concern that there is a real risk of this being repeated unless we now do something worthwhile to discourage such statements in future.

Thirdly, I respectfully suggest that there is more than sufficient support from the speeches today for taking some real action to deter future misuses or abuses, whatever you call them, of this privilege. So I respectfully urge the House authorities—no doubt predominantly the Procedure Committee—to give full consideration to this matter.

The Senior Deputy Speaker has just said, rightly, that the matter was looked at, comparatively briefly, by the Procedure Committee recently, and he undertook to look at it afresh. I urge him and the members of any committee that now looks into this to do so fully informed by this debate, in all its aspects. I hope that giving full consideration to the speeches today might very well temper what is otherwise a very limited proposed response to the problem, simply by way of adapting the Companion. I repeat that I am very grateful to all noble Lords who made such valuable contributions today and I beg to move.

Motion agreed.