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Cover Essential Cases: Public Law

R v Chaytor and others [2010] UKSC 52, Supreme Court  

Essential Cases: Public Law provides a bridge between course textbooks and key case judgments. This case document summarizes the facts and decision in R v Chaytor and others [2010] UKSC 52, Supreme Court. This case considered the extent of parliamentary privilege, and the courts’ role in interpreting it. The document also includes supporting commentary and questions from author Thomas Webb.

Chapter

Cover Essential Cases: Public Law

R v Chaytor and others [2010] UKSC 52, Supreme Court  

Essential Cases: Public Law provides a bridge between course textbooks and key case judgments. This case document summarizes the facts and decision in R v Chaytor and others [2010] UKSC 52, Supreme Court. This case considered the extent of parliamentary privilege, and the courts’ role in interpreting it. The document also includes supporting commentary and questions from author Thomas Webb.

Chapter

Cover Public Law Directions

10. The Legislature: membership, privileges, and standards  

This chapter explores the role and membership of Parliament’s two chambers, the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the operation of parliamentary privilege; and accountability of members. The key functions of Parliament include controlling national expenditure and taxation; sustaining the government; legislating and scrutinising government actions. The House of Commons is the pre-eminent chamber and dominates Parliament. The Commons’ membership consists of Members of Parliament (MPs) who are democratically elected by the public to represent their interests in Parliament. The membership of the House of Lords largely relies on patronage. Members of the Lords are appointed by the Queen on the Prime Minister’s advice. The House of Lords is an important revising and scrutinising chamber, and while it is subordinate to the democratically elected House of Commons, it is also a check on constitutional change by the Commons. The Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949 redefined the Lords’ legislative powers over public bills and established the Commons’ primacy. The chapter then considers the operation of parliamentary privilege. Parliament needs parliamentary privilege to conduct its core business effectively, independently, and without fear of outside interference, and to protect everything said or done in the transaction of parliamentary business. Indeed, Parliament is self-regulating and, as a sovereign body, operates outside the jurisdiction of the courts except for the criminal law. Each House has its own standards of conduct and disciplinary powers which ensure accountability.

Chapter

Cover Constitutional Law, Administrative Law, and Human Rights

8. Parliamentary Privilege  

This chapter, which examines the so-called parliamentary privileges of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, begins by discussing Article 9 of the Bill of Rights 1689. It then explores over three hundred years of the history of parliamentary privilege in five general areas: (i) the houses’ power to regulate their own composition through the admission, retention, and expulsion of their members; (ii) the publication of details of house business; (iii) the admissibility before the courts of such published material; (iv) the concept of ‘contempt of the house’; and (v) the regulation of MPs’ ethical standards. The chapter also analyses several seminal cases in which the courts have adjudicated on both the nature and extent of parliamentary privilege and considers how case law in relation to this area of the constitution balances the sometimes competing concepts of the sovereignty of Parliament, the rule of law, and the separation of powers.