Letter: Madam Speaker was in order

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The Independent Online
Sir: The Speaker is quite right ('Madam Speaker awarded the ultimate accolade', 22 July). The courts may not question proceedings in Parliament. The purpose of this provision in the Bill of Rights was to prevent the King from punishing Members of Parliament for what they said in the chamber.

There is not and cannot be any similar prohibition on questioning the meaning of the statutes which result from those proceedings. Under the judgement in Pepper v Hart, the courts may look at speeches in Parliament in order to understand the meaning of those statutes and for no other purpose.

I therefore believe that Lord Rees-Mogg was unwise to begin his current action while proceedings in Parliament were still in progress. Now that parliamentary proceedings are concluded, Lord Rees-Mogg has every right to test the meaning of the resulting statute in the courts. The Speaker, unlike Mr Benn, understood this very well.

Yours sincerely,


House of Lords

London, SW1

22 July