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Chapter V. by a committee appointed to inquire into the state of the

gaols, that Sir W. Rich, a prisoner in the Fleet, had been misused by the warden of the Fleet, in consequence of evidence given by the former to the committee. The house declared, nem. con., that the warden was guilty of contempt, and committed him to the Serjeant-at-arms.

On the 10th May, 1733, complaint was made that Jeremiah Dunbar, Esq., had been censured by the House of Representatives of Massachusetts Bay, for evidence given by him before a committee on a bill, upon which the house resolved, nem. con., “That the presuming to call any person to account, or to pass a censure upon him, for evidence given by such person before this house, or any committee thereof, is an audacious proceeding, and a high violation of the privileges of this house." 2

In 1819, Thomas Stinton, a soldier examined before the Worcester Election Committee, was arrested by the sergeant of his regiment, in the lobby, for absenting himself from drill. There were, however, other circumstances in the case, which induced the house not to regard this as a breach of privilege.3

On the 2nd July, 1845, Mr. Jasper Parrott complained to the house, by petition, that an action had been commenced against him in respect of evidence which he had given before a committee. The plaintiff and his solicitors, having been ordered to attend, disclaimed any intention of violating the privileges of the house, and declared that the action would be discontinued. They were, in consequence, discharged from further attendance, although the commencement of the action was declared to be a breach of privilege. It is worthy of remark, that the plaintiff's solicitor stated, in a petition to the house, that the declaration had been framed upon the assumption that a witness would not be protected, by privilege, in respect of any evidence which was wilfully and maliciously false, any

121 C. J. 247.
2 22 ib. 146.
3 39 H. D. 1 s. 1168. 1226.

· 100 C. J. 672. 680. 697; 81 H. D. 3 s. 1436.

Rail

more than the powers of the superior courts at Westminster Chapter V.
would be exerted to protect any witness from an indict-
ment for perjury. The house, however, did not recognize
any such analogy : but resolved to protect the witness
from all proceedings against him, in respect of the evidence
given by him before a committee.

In the same year, a similar case occurred in the House
of Lords. Peter Taite Harbin had brought an action, by
John Harlow, his attorney, against Thomas Baker, for
false and malicious language uttered before the House of
Lords, in giving evidence before a committee. On the 14th
July, the plaintiff and his attorney were summoned to the
bar, and on their refusal to state that the action should
not be proceeded with, were both declared guilty of a

breach of privilege, and committed.
The direc- On the 7th April, 1892, a member of the house, who was
tors of the
Cambrian a director of the Cambrian Railway Company, attended the
Company.
wilway, house, in his place, and two other directors and the manager

of the company, at the bar, under an order of the house
made in consequence of a special report from the select Considera-
committee on Railway Servants (Hours of Labour). The ports from
committee reported that, in the course of their inquiry, it see
came to their knowledge that allegations were made that p. 420.
certain persons had been reduced or dismissed from the
service of the company, in consequence of the evidence they
had given before the committee, and that in the case of
one person, John Hood, he was dismissed by the company
mainly in consequence of charges arising out of the evidence
given by him before the committee. The committee also
reported that the manager of the company laid the evidence
relating to John Hood before the directors of the company,
and that they, the directors of the company then present,
when John Hood asked for a re-hearing of the case, called
him to account, and censured him for the evidence which
he gave before the committee, in a manner calculated to
deter other railway servants from giving evidence before
a committee of the house.

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82 H. D. 3 s. 431. 494.

Chapter V. The member was heard in his place, in behalf of himself

and the other directors and the manager of the Cambrian
Railway Company, and stated that they had not the slightest
intention of deterring any railway servant from giving
evidence before the committee; and that if they had, by
the course they had adopted, unintentionally infringed any
of the rules or privileges of the house, they asked the house
to accept the unqualified expression of their regret; and

one of the directors expressed his entire concurrence with
Members to the member's statement. They then withdrew; and the
withdrav,
see p. 330. house resolved that, while recognizing that the directors

and manager of the company had disclaimed any intention
to deter any railway servant from giving evidence before
its committee, and had expressed their unqualified regret
for having unintentionally infringed any of its rules and
privileges, the house was of opinion that they had com-
mitted a breach of the privileges of the house in their
action towards John Hood, and that they be called in and

admonished by Mr. Speaker for the breach of privilege Admoni- that they had committed. The directors and the manager 94.'** were accordingly called in, the member standing in his See formal place, and the other directors and manager standing at motions, p.

the bar, and received the admonition of the Speaker;
which, by the order of the house, was entered upon the
journal."

The privilege of protection from molestation in respect Protection
of what they have stated professionally, is also extended to co
to counsel. On the 21st March, 1826, complaint was made
that an insulting letter had been written by John Lee
Wharton to Mr. Fonblanque, K.C., in relation to a speech Mr. Fon-
made by him, at the bar of the House of Lords, on the 16th
March. Mr. Wharton attended, according to order, and on
making a proper submission and apology, was discharged
from further attendance.?
And apart from the protection afforded by privilege, it Statements

to Parliaappears that statements made to Parliainent in the course ment not of its proceedings are not actionable at law. In Lake v. aci 147 C. J. 166.

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215.

counsel.

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2 58 L. J. 128. 145. P.

actionable.

King, which was an action upon the case for printing a Chapter V.
false and scandalous petition to the committee of Parlia-
ment for grievances, it was agreed by the court, “that the
exhibiting the petition to a committee of Parliament was
lawful, and that no action lies for it, although the matter
contained in the petition was false and scandalous, because
it is in a summary course of justice, and before those who
have power to examine whether it be true or false. But
the question was, whether the printing and publishing of it,
in the manner alleged by the defendant in his plea," viz.
by delivering printed copies to the members of the com-
mittee, “according to custom used by others in that behalf,
and approved of by the members of the said committee,”
was justifiable or not? Judgment was given for the de-
fendant, by Hale, C.J., upon the ground, " that it was the
order and course of proceedings in Parliament to print and

deliver copies, whereof they ought to take judicial notice." Admissible In Rex v. Merceron, an indictment against a magistrate

c. for misconduct in his office, in having corruptly granted

licences to public-houses, which were his own property, it was proposed, in behalf of the prosecutor, to prove what had been said by the defendant, in the course of his examination before a committee of the House of Commons, appointed for the purpose of inquiring into the police of the metropolis. The defendant had been compelled to appear before this committee, and had, upon examination, delivered in a list of certain public-houses, with the names of the owners and other particulars. On the part of the defendant it was objected, that since this statement had been made under a compulsory process from the House of Commons, and under the pain of incurring punishment as for a contempt of that house, the declarations were not voluntary, and could not be admitted for the purpose of criminating the defendant : but Abbott, C.J., was of opinion that the evidence was admissible.?

as evidence.

11 Saunders' Reports, 131 b; 1 Lev. 240; 2 Keb. 361. 383. 462. 496. 659. 801. See also 2 Inst. 228, as to

evidence before a jury being privi. leged.

? 2 Starkie's Nisi Prius Cases, 366.

Chapter

VI.

CHAPTER VI.

Table of Contents, see Introduction.

JURISDICTION OF COURTS OF LAW IN MATTERS

OF PRIVILEGE.

stated

The precise jurisdiction of courts of law in matters of privi- Difficulty

of the lege, is one of the most difficult questions of constitutional question. law that has ever arisen. Upon this point the precedents of Parliament are contradictory, the opinions and decisions of judges have differed, and the most learned and experienced men of the present day are not agreed. It would, therefore, be presumptuous to define the jurisdiction of the courts, or the bounds of parliamentary privilege: but it may not be useless to explain the principles involved in the question; to cite the chief authorities, and to advert to some of the

leading cases that have occurred. Considera- It has been shown already (see p. 59), that each house Principles matters of of Parliament claims to be sole and exclusive judge of its see p. 270.

6. own privileges, and that the courts have repeatedly acknow

ledged the right of both houses to declare what is a breach
of privilege, and to commit the parties offending, as for a
contempt: but, although the courts will neither interfere
with Parliament in its punishment of offenders, nor assume
the general right of declaring and limiting the privileges of
Parliament, they are bound to administer the law of the
land, and to adjudicate when breaches of that law are
complained of. The jurisdiction of Parliament, and the
jurisdiction of the courts, are thus liable to be brought into
conflict. The House of Lords, or the House of Commons,
may declare a particular act to have been justified by their
order, and to be in accordance with the law of Parliament;
while the courts may decline to acknowledge the right of
one house to supersede, by its sole authority, the laws which
have been made by the assent, or which exist with the
acquiescence, of all the branches of the legislature. It is

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