Introduction to contempts and how Parliament deals with complaints


15.1This chapter examines the various types of conduct which have been considered to be contempts. It then goes on to look at the way in which the two Houses deal with complaints that contempt has been committed. As will be seen from the analysis below, it would be possible to commit a contempt without breaching a particular privilege of the House. The term ‘breach of privilege’ properly applies only to offences against the specific privileges described in earlier chapters. Contempt is a much wider concept, as this chapter describes, but the phrase ‘breach of privilege’ is, and long has been, used to include acts which are technically contempts.