Speaker upholds Sedgemore motion

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The Speaker, Betty Boothroyd, yesterday referred to the Commons Procedure Committee the use of an Early Day Motion directly referring to the daughter of a former Cabinet minister despite a High Court gagging order preventing her from being named, writes Donald Macintyre.

But the Speaker upheld the Labour MP Brian Sedgemore's controversial decision to publish the Commons motion on the grounds that he was not in breach of any rule by doings so.

In the motion Mr Sedgemore, MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch, calls for a change in the law to prevent "gross denial of human rights" in the case of the mother and daughter "who have been subjected to the imposition by the courts of a Mary Bell order, a blanket gag on all publicity relating to a child who has fought a magnificent battle against the adversity of a brain tumour, frequent fits, eventual surgical removal of the tumour, and a lengthy recuperation; and believes that the mother has every right now to fight for proper educational provision for her daughter, using publicity to pursue her cause". The motion has been signed by at least four other Labour MPs.

Yesterday Ann Winterton, Tory MP for Congleton, asked the Speaker if parliamentary privilege had been breached. Miss Boothroyd said she was satisfied "that it does not breach any existing rule of this House", but had referred the matter to the Procedure Committee.