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Bbc (Injunction)

Volume 124: debated on Monday 7 December 1987

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3.57 pm

We can see him at Selfridge's as well this year.

I hope that this young puppy is not referring to you, Sir. Mine is an immediate, practical point of order to do with the proceedings that the House indulged in a few moments ago.

As understand it, the practical result of the injunction obtained by the Attorney-General in the courts is that if the BBC wanted to broadcast the exchanges that took place it would have to introduce a bleep the moment the name of Mr. Peter Wright was mentioned. Is that really the practical result of this injunction? If that is so, is it not totally unacceptable censorship of the House of Commons?

I am not an expert on injunctions, so I cannot answer the hon. Gentleman's question. However, I shall ensure that the rights and privileges of the House are upheld.

I cannot help the hon. Gentleman, but I call him to put his point of order.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. On Friday the whole nation heard on the BBC 6 o'clock news that the Corporation was unable to report part of what went on in Parliament because of the injunction that had been obtained against it. Therefore, I ask you to give a ruling on this question. If the BBC is prevented by an injunction from reporting part of what goes on in Parliament, it follows that that is an infringement of the rights of Parliament to discuss what it wishes. Surely it also calls into question Hansard and its distribution, because if the injunction covers what is said in Parliament, quite specifically the BBC, newspapers and other news media are prevented from reporting exactly what is said in Parliament.

You, Mr. Speaker, have the right to uphold the legal immunity of Parliament to disuss what it wishes, in the way that it wishes, and to uphold the right of the report of its proceedings to be freely available to every person in Britain. Quite clearly, in granting this injunction against the BBC last week the courts have infringed that right. We appeal to you to protect our right to speak freely in the House and, above all, to protect the rights of people outside Parliament to listen to what we discuss.

I can only repeat what I have already said; that whether a broadcast is made is not a matter for me. I certainly uphold the right of hon. Members to have their say in this Chamber and their right to be reported in Hansard.