Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North) (Lab): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Would it be possible to know whether the appeal by the House of Commons Commission to the Appeal Court is limited to the question of addresses, or extends to the wider question of second homes? If it is the former, that would be perfectly understandable on grounds of security. If, however, the appeal against the information tribunal is on the wider question of expenditure on what are described as second homes, it should be noted that some Members, certainly myself, are very much opposed to the appeal being lodged. In my view, it is unfortunate that no way of voting—
Mr. Speaker: Order. This matter is before the court, and while I know that the media can talk about it, the rules are clear that it is sub judice for the House of Commons, and I cannot discuss it. In relation to many of the questions that the hon. Gentleman raises, there is nothing to stop him going to the court and finding out the grounds for the appeal.
What an arse. The House of Commons can discuss anything it likes. And if it can't talk about the propriety of MPs' expenses, what on earth can it discuss?! Rosa Prince on Three Line Whip says...
Now, I’m no expert but even I know there are no laws which permit newspapers to report matters that MPs are banned from discussing.
In fact, the opposite is true – Parliamentary debates enjoy privilege, allowing MPs and peers to raise topics without risk of libel or other legal action.
The Head of Legal explains the law of sub judice, as it relates to the House of Commons...
Sub judice isn't a rule of law; legally, Parliament can discuss whatever it likes. Unlike the media, it need not fear that the Attorney General will try to injunct it to prevent contempt of court; nor can anyone else take action against it for what member say, whether under libel laws or any other cause of action.
This whole sorry episode gives further fuel to those of us who believe Michael Martin is not up to the job.And before the lefties start bleating in the comments about snobbery, it's got nothing to do with it. Accusations of snobbery with regard to Michael Martin are the last refuge of the desperate.
UPDATE: Loved this from Macchiavelli in the comment thread...
Nobody thinks higher of Mr Speaker than I do... and I think the man's a bloody idiot.