Skip to main content

Speaker’s Statement

Volume 485: debated on Tuesday 16 December 2008

Now that the House has concluded the debate on the Queen’s Speech, I wish at the start of the Session to make a brief statement about the duties and responsibilities of Members.

Our ancient privileges allow us to conduct our debate without fear of outside interference. In particular, we enjoy freedom of speech, both in Committee proceedings and in debates on the Floor of the House. Parliamentary privilege is essential for proper democratic debate and scrutiny, but it should be exercised responsibly.

It is up to each one of us to ensure that, as individuals and collectively, we do not misuse the rights that we have. They should be exercised in the public interest. We must ensure that we follow the letter and spirit of the code of conduct and related rules that we have approved to regulate our business.

Each Member is here to represent the views of his or her constituents and to participate in the process of democracy. We should ensure that every Member is heard courteously, regardless of the view that he or she is expressing. Every member of the public has the right to expect that his or her Member of Parliament will behave with civility, in the best traditions of fairness and with the highest level of probity and integrity.

I turn now to security, not only for Members of Parliament but for the staff of this House, who work so hard on our behalf, and for those who are pass holders. I expect every Member of the House to co-operate fully with those officials who are responsible for the security that ensures that our democratic process is not disturbed and that visitors to Parliament can continue to be made welcome. While the work of the Boundary Commission continues, hon. Members have a duty to look after the constituents who elected them. The boundaries do not change until the next election, so we must obey the convention of not involving ourselves with another Member’s constituency until after that time.