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Point of Order

Volume 592: debated on Thursday 5 February 2015

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I wish to make a request of you, in the context of your responsibility for protecting the privileges of Members.

Yesterday, the Interception of Communications Commissioner, Sir Anthony May, criticised the British police for intercepting journalistic communications in order to determine journalistic sources. As a direct result of that, No. 10 Downing street instructed the Home Office to change the arrangements so that in future the police would have to secure judicial approval before intercepting or collecting data on journalistic communications.

A year ago, my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield North (Nick de Bois) asked the Cabinet Office whether the Wilson doctrine applied to information collection of that kind in respect of Members of Parliament. The same issue applies: just as journalists want to protect their sources, we need to protect our constituents—who may be complaining about the state—and whistleblowers. Given your responsibility for protecting our privileges, Mr Speaker, will you make inquiries of the Government to establish whether our communications are protected in this way, and whether, if they are not, they should be subject to judicial oversight?

The short answer—I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for that highly pertinent point of order—is that I shall make inquiries. Having made such inquiries, I will revert to the right hon. Gentleman, but I think, in all propriety, and suitably notified in advance, I will report to the House.