Cookies: We use cookies to give you the best possible experience on our site. By continuing to use the site you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more
House of Commons Hansard
x
13 December 2018
Volume 651
The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

1. What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the effectiveness of contempt of court proceedings. [908197]

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The institution of court proceedings for contempt is by me in relation to each case on its own merits. I institute proceedings when there is sufficient evidence, and when I, as guardian of the public interest, decide that it is in the public interest to do so.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Contempt of court proceedings are very important to ensuring fair trials and the rule of law. Contempt of Parliament proceedings have been crucial in enabling the House to have the information to which it was entitled. Is the Attorney General not ashamed that his Ministers were found to be in contempt?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

It is always a serious matter for any Minister to find himself at odds with the House, particularly over an important question of constitutional principle. On reflection, and the opinion of the House having been tested twice, the Government took the decision to disclose the advice, but I must stress to the hon. Lady that successive Governments have defended that principle robustly. I have a list of very eloquent articulations of it by Opposition Members who have defended it against demands for the disclosure of confidential advice. It is an important principle, and I hope that the House will look again at the procedures relating to the motion for a return.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

May I perhaps return to the question? [Interruption.] Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that there is a real need to revisit the standard directions that judges give to juries in relation to the use of social media? Generally judges are well alert to the issue, but, as we know, there have been instances in which convictions have had to be set aside because juries have, in effect, researched the case outside the jury room using social media.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Order. For the avoidance of doubt, the previous exchanges were entirely orderly, and I would have ruled otherwise if they were not. That is the position, which, frankly, the Solicitor General ought to take to heart, and upon which he might usefully reflect. I will be the arbiter of what is orderly, not the hon. and learned Gentleman.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The impact of social media on the integrity and fairness of the trial process is obviously of considerable importance, and we do need to grapple with it. As he knows, we have a call for evidence on social media, and I am currently studying the responses to it.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

On the subject of contempt, the Attorney General was meant to disclose the full and final legal advice on the withdrawal agreement. What was actually disclosed was a letter to the Prime Minister dated 13 November exclusively on the legal effect of the protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland. Is the Attorney General seriously saying he did not advise on the remainder of the withdrawal agreement?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

As the hon. Gentleman knows, his party colleague the right hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Keir Starmer) refined and defined the request, which was for the final and full advice that was given to the Cabinet, and that is what he has had.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The letter refers simply to the legal effect of the protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland, but let me then ask the Attorney General this: the Prime Minister said last night on the steps of Downing Street that she is seeking “legal and political changes” to the withdrawal agreement and the backstop, so as a matter of honour if nothing else, if the Attorney General advises on any changes or additions that the Prime Minister brings back, will he disclose that advice to this House?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

As the hon. Gentleman knows, the principle of the convention applies and must be upheld. Of course the Government will consider very carefully, particularly in the light of the House’s expressed wish for assistance on these matters, what assistance they and I as Attorney General can give.