01 December 2008

The constitutional proprieties

When the entire British commentariat is fulminating over the iniquities of the police, the Home Office and the House of Commons authorities, it takes courage to express a contrary opinion. So even if this guy has got it wrong (and I'm not sure he has), well done to the professor. From yesterday's Observer here:
Vernon Bogdanor, professor of government at Oxford University where one of his undergraduates was David Cameron, dismissed claims from Labour backbenchers who said the Metropolitan Police had breached parliamentary privilege by raiding Green's office in the House of Commons.
Bogdanor said that parliamentary privilege extended only to what an MP said in the Commons and that the Yard had a responsibility to arrest individuals over allegations of illegality regardless of whether they were an MP or not.
'MPs are subject to criminal law as much as the rest of us,' he said. 'Their parliamentary privilege only extends to speeches in the chamber, not their offices.
'If an MP were accused of theft and keeping stolen goods in his office at the House of Commons, should he be exempt from a police investigation?'

1 comment:

Stuart Winton said...

Yes, I was arguing along similar lines on my blog yesterday; whatever 'parliamentary privilege' is, precisely, it can't be absolute.

Whatever the merits of the Damian Green issue, the tenor of some of the debate seems to assume that MPs should be above the law.