Publication of extracts

13.7If a Member of either House publishes separately from the rest of the debate a speech made in the course of proceedings in Parliament, that statement becomes a separate publication, unconnected with any proceedings in Parliament, and the Member is legally responsible for any defamatory matter it may contain.1 In all cases, the extent to which the Parliamentary Papers Act 1840 (or other provision) protects the repetition or publication of proceedings outside Parliament is a matter for the courts.2


  1. 1. A speech delivered (by Lord Abingdon) in the Lords in 1794 was subsequently published separately in several newspapers at his own expense, and his Lordship was punished by the court (1794) 170 ER 337. In 1813 Mr Creevey was found guilty of libel, having sent to the editor of a newspaper a corrected version of a speech made in the Commons previously incorrectly reported, with a request for publication. Upon his complaint to the House that King's Bench refused a new trial, the House came to no conclusion on whether the proceedings were a breach of privilege (see 105 ER 102; CJ (1812–13) 604; Parl Deb (1812–13) 26, c 898). In Hutchison v Proxmire 443 US 111 at 127 (1979), the United States Supreme Court held that press releases and newsletters, even if repeating material delivered in a speech in Congress, were not protected by the ‘Speech or Debate’ clause of the Constitution. A similar conclusion was reached in respect of private re-publication of documents made public at a Congressional committee hearing (Doe v McMillan 412 US 306 at 313 (1973) ). It was held in an Ontario judgment, however (Roman Corpn v Hudson's Bay Oil and Gas Co (1973) 36 DLR (3d) 413 ), that a press release was an extension of a proceeding in Parliament (a ministerial statement).
  2. 2. HC Deb (4 February 2013) 558, c 47.