House of Commons

14.12It has been the general and very long-standing opinion, allowed by the courts1 and clearly stated by institutional authorities,2 that the privilege of freedom from arrest attaches to a Member of the House of Commons for 40 days after every prorogation or dissolution3 and 40 days before the next appointed meeting. There may be an historical connection between such a right and the fact that in ancient custom writs of summons for a Parliament were issued at least 40 days before its appointed meeting. A Member of the Commons who has not yet taken the oath is entitled to this privilege.4


  1. 1. Goudy v Duncombe (1847) 154 ER 183 ff, esp at 185.
  2. 2. Sir W Blackstone Commentaries (17th edn, 1830) i, p 165. The right of franking letters, formerly enjoyed by Members, was by Act granted for 40 days. For a history of this right, see CJ (1732–37) 462.
  3. 3. Barnard v Mordaunt (1754) 96 ER 939; Goudy v Duncombe (1847) 154 ER 83; and Re Anglo-French Co-operative Society [1880] 14 Ch D 534.
  4. 4. European and American Finance Corporation v MP (1865) 13 LT 447.