HL Deb 16 December 1974 vol 355 cc1033-4WA

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will make a Statement showing in how many cases since 1945 Acts of Indemnity have been passed in favour of Members of either House of Parliament identifying each case by name and date, and stating in each case the ground upon which it was conceived that Indemnity was required, and whether it is conceived that the breaches of law involved were, and to what extent if any, deliberate.


Eleven Acts of Indemnity, which have been passed in favour of Members of either House of Parliament since 1945, are listed below:

  1. (1) Coatbridge & Springburn Elections (Validation) Act 1945.
  2. (2) Camberwell, Bristol & Nottingham Elections (Validation) Act 1945.
  3. (3) House of Commons (Indemnification of certain Members) Act 1949.
  4. (4) Reverend J. G. MacManaway's Indemnity Act 1951.
  5. (5) Price Control & Other Orders (Indemnity) Act 1951.
  6. (6) Niall Macpherson Indemnity Act 1954.
  7. (7) Validation of Elections Act 1955.
  8. (8) Validation of Elections (No. 2) Act 1955.
  9. (9) Validation of Elections (No. 3) Act 1955.
  10. 1034
  11. (10) Charles Beattie Indemnity Act 1956.
  12. (11) Town and Country Planning Regulations (London) (Indemnity) Act 1970.

1951 Prices Act and the 1970 Act indemnified certain Ministers of the Crown, with others, from the consequences of failing to lay Statutory Instruments before Parliament properly. The remaining Acts indemnified Members of the House of Commons who sat in that House although they were disqualified from membership, either by virtue of being an ordained priest of the Church of Ireland (Reverend J. G. MacManaway), or by virtue of holding an office of profit under the Crown to which Section 24 of the Succession to the Throne Act 1707 applied. The 1949 Act also provided indemnity for a Member of another place who was a partner in a firm undertaking a contract for or on account of the public service contrary to the House of Commons (Disqualification) Act 1782. In none of these cases was the breach of the law believed to be deliberate.

Since the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1957, technical breaches which previously had to be dealt with by Act of Indemnity can now be dealt with by an Order of the House of Commons under Section 6(2) of that Act. Such an Order was made in another Place on 3rd April 1974 in respect of Dr. Michael Winstanley.

House adjourned at twenty-six minutes past eight o'clock.