Point of Order – Scandalising The Court
Mr Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab): On a point of order, Mr Speaker. May I thank you personally, and also thank the whole House—whose opinion was expressed in an early-day motion sponsored by the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough (Mr Blunkett) in the last Session—for supporting me in connection with the prosecution brought by the Northern Ireland Attorney-General? It is perhaps no coincidence that common sense finally prevailed last week and the Attorney-General dropped the prosecution, but issues of free speech for Members and the ancient offence of scandalising a judge are still unresolved. Will you consider, Mr Speaker, how the House could present proposals to give greater protection to freedom of speech for Members over contempt actions—whether or not statements are made in the House or outside—and make recommendations to the House?