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Question Of Privilege

Volume 889: debated on Wednesday 9 April 1975

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

I now want to rule on the matter of privilege. The hon. Member for Nottingham, West (Mr. English) yesterday submitted to me that a Written Answer by the Prime Minister published in col. 351 of Hansard of Monday, 7th April, constituted a contempt of the House and a breach of its privileges.

I have considered the matter carefully.

In general, I think that arrangements made within political parties in this House would be unlikely to raise questions of contempt or privilege. Also, the Chair must be careful not to appear to be trying to interfere in such arrangements.

In this particular case, as I understand the Prime Minister's answer, the new element is freedom to dissent in the country, not any change in the normal practices in this House.

Therefore, I am not prepared to give to a motion concerning it precedence over the Orders of the Day.

May I thank you for your ruling, Mr. Speaker? I accept it, though I regret it. Other possibilities exist. For example, the third paragraph of the Written Answer, with which I agree, precludes both pro-and anti-Market Ministers appearing on the same platform. No doubt, therefore, the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party will have to consider whether the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Employment can appear together on 26th April.