§ Mr. Molloy
I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 9, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,the law of privilege relating to hon. Members, with specific reference to allegations of bribery and corruption connected with parliamentary duties.The events over the weekend have caused great concern, I should have thought, to the overwhelming majority of Members of this House, as well as to the general public outside.
As I understand the position, if any hon. Member of this House is concerned or connected with any act of bribery or corruption in connection with his parliamentary duty, he is above the law. That is, apparently, the situation in which we find ourselves. I believe that no single Member of this House wants that situation and I believe that this privilege should be totally removed.
As I understand it, it originated in the Bill of Rights of 1689, and, if for no other reason than that, it ought to be overhauled. It was further examined under the Public Bodies Corrupt Practices Act 1889, and then again in 1906, in relation 945 to the Prevention of Corruption Act, but this privilege of Members of Parliament has always remained.
Last July the Royal Commission, under the chairmanship of Mr. Justice Salmon, reported, and we have not had an opportunity to discuss that report.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) mentioned that a newspaper had carried a report. From one aspect, it could be commended for bringing attention to this situation. I do not wish in any way to impinge on the rights, freedom and liberty of the newspapers, but in enjoying that freedom and liberty they have to maintain certain standards, and I believe that it is wrong and unfair to mention one Member of this House—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. May I help the hon. Gentleman and, I hope, the House at the same time? The hon. Gentleman does not have to argue his case now. He has to explain why the matter is urgent enough to take precedence over all other business.
§ Mr. Molloy
I believe that the reason I have submitted is pretty good on its own, because, as my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover has said, the finger of suspicion could be pointed at every single Member of the House.
946 I believe that this loophole must be removed. I do not believe that any Member of this House wishes to have this privilege and that the necessary steps ought to be taken swiftly to remove it. Perhaps a good start would be to have a debate this afternoon on the matter.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Molloy) asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he thinks should have urgent consideration, namely,the law of privilege relating to hon. Members, with specific reference to allegations of bribery and corruption connected with parliamentary duties.As the House knows, under Standing Order No. 9 I am directed to take into account the several factors set out in the Order but to give no reasons for my decision. In giving my decision, I am not ruling whether this matter ever should be debated but whether it should have precedence. I have given careful consideration to the representations the hon. Gentleman has made, but I have to rule that his submission does not fall within the provisions of the Standing Order and, therefore, I cannot submit his application to the House.