HC Deb 14 July 1960 vol 626 cc1611-2
Mr. Paget

I rise on a point of Privilege. I am extremely sorry, Mr. Speaker, that I have not had the opportunity to give you notice of it in advance, because the question only arose during Question Time today. In Question No. 20 my hon. Friend the Member for Brixton (Mr. Lipton) asked the Home Secretary why he has refused to allow the contents of a letter received by the hon. Member for Brixton, from a prisoner in Wandsworth Prison, complaining of the circumstances in which he was kept in solitary confinement from 24th December, 1959, to 21st April, 1960, to be released to the Press. The questioning on that was cut a little short, but as I understand it the Home Secretary agreed that that fact was correct. If a Minister of the Crown seeks to prevent an hon. Member of this House from communicating a grievance of an elector, whether it be one of his constituents or not, to the electors generally, whether it be by the Press or not, that is, in my submission, a breach of the privileges of this House.

Our essential function as Members of Parliament is to raise and proclaim grievances as we think fit, and we have had no explanation at all as to by what right the Home Secretary considers that he can say to a Member of Parliament what he should or should not do with regard to communicating the contents of a letter in his possession.

Mr. Speaker

I would, like the hon. and learned Gentleman, recognise the point about the brevity with which the matter was treated, but we were sailing so dreadfully badly in point of time that I had no penitence at that stage.

Under the new prescription I am allowed 24 hours in which to consider matters like this. I will avail myself of the rules and consider what the hon. and learned Gentleman has put to me.