HC Deb 17 March 1840 vol 52 cc1202-4
Mr. Stuart

brought up the report on the Printed Papers Bill.

Sir E. Sugden moved the addition of the clause which he had stated on a previous night, providing that when any civil or criminal process were put an end to by the authority of this act, persons who had been committed by either House of Parliament for carrying on or assisting in such prosecution should be forthwith discharged.

Lord J. Russell

opposed the clause. It would directly interfere with the privileges of the House, by putting a stop in certain cases to their power of commitment.

Sir R. Inglis

supported the clause. He regretted that the noble Lord had taken his present course before time had been allowed for the consideration of the petition, which he had presented that evening from the printers of The Times and Morning Post newspapers, praying that such protection as the House thought it necessary to give to their own printer and publisher might be extended to them.* If * The following is the petition alluded to by the lion. Baronet. TO THE HON. THE COMMONS OF THE UNITED KINGDOM OF GEEAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND, IN PARLIAMENT ASSEMBLED. The humble petition of John Joseph Law-son, of No. 26, Newington-crescent, in the parish of St. Mary, Newington, in the county of Surrey, printer, and Thomas Payne, of No. 23, Pembroke-square, Kensington, in the county of Middlesex, printer, showeth— That your petitioners are printers and publishers of certain newspapers published daily in London, and severally entitled The Times and the Morning Post, and are responsible for the contents of those papers. That, to the conducting in an adequate and efficient manner the business in which your petitioners are engaged, and which consists in diffusing as widely as possible throughout the United Kingdom and its dependencies the fullest and most accurate information they can procure in relation to all affairs of public interest, it is indispensably necessary, upon the House thought fit to give protection to their two printer and publisher, and excluded others from that protection, all persons who were injured, or who thought themselves injured, by the orders of this House, finding that they had no redress against the officers of the House, would bring their actions against those who had done nothing put copy extracts from the reports printed by the printer of the House. If they gave protection to the printer of the report of the New Zealand Committee, because it was bound in a blue coyer and printed and published by Messrs. Hansard and Nichols, they ought also to give the same protection to the printer and publisher of any daily paper in which those reports or extracts from them were reprinted verbatim. Many hon. Members did not read the blue-covered books at all, but collected all their knowledge of them from certain portions of those books which were printed in the daily papers. If those portions were bonâ fide transcripts published without mutilation, and the House gave protection to their own printer, it was hard to refuse that protection to those who merely transcribed those portions. He knew that there were legal difficulties in the way, and it was not for him to presume to suggest the mode of extending the protection; but he thought there were many hon. Members in this House who could suggest a mode that would be satisfactory. All he wanted was, that if no action could occasions of frequent recurrence, that your petitioners should reprint and republish in their respective newspapers the whole or selected portions of reports and other documents previously printed and published by order of your. hon. House. That the utility of such reports and documents depends In a great degree on their receiving publication through the medium of the public press. That your petitioners are liable to prosecution by indictment or information, as well as to actions at law for the recovery of damages, so often as anything contained in the reports or other documents first printed and published by order of your hon. House, and subsequently reprinted and republished by them may be deemed, by any individual what-ever, to reflect in any manner upon his character, or to be in any degree injurious to his private interests, That your petitioners are apprehensive, if legislative protection against such prosecutions or actions at law, be given exclusively to the original printers and publishers of Par- be brought in respect of the blue-book, no action should be brought in respect of any identical extract from it being printed in the broad sheet. He trusted that on the third reading the noble Lord would not refuse his consent to the consideration of this question, and that some professional Member of the House would take up the subject.

Clause negatived without a division. Report agreed to.