Matters sub judice
38.25The resolution of the House prescribing its practice with regard to matters that are awaiting judgment in the courts (see paras 20.11, 21.19 ) includes proceedings in select committees.1 The discretion available to the Chair should be exercised only in exceptional circumstances and, if time allows, following consultation with the Speaker. Committees have suspended inquiries in progress because a witness had been charged with criminal offences related to the subject-matter of the inquiry2 or have decided not to take evidence from particular witnesses in the course of an inquiry because the committee had been informed that the witnesses would also be witnesses in impending criminal or civil proceedings.3 The bar does not, however, operate when committees are deliberating, since they do so in private, nor when evidence is being taken in private and, since there is no restriction on the right of the House to legislate, the proceedings of a select committee on a bill need not be affected by it.
- 1. CJ (2001–02) 194–95. Previously, the principle that such matters should not be prejudiced by public comment held good in select committees: Science and Technology Committee, Genetic Engineering Sub-Committee, Session 1978–79, HC 355, p 19; Energy Committee, Session 1987–88, HC 307, p 110.
- 2. See Trade and Industry Committee, Minutes of Proceedings of Session 1989–90, HC 693, pp x–xii; Committee of Privileges, First Report of Session 2016–17, Conduct of witnesses before a select committee: Mr Colin Myler, Mr Tom Crone, Mr Les Hinton, and News International HC 662, paras 10–15 (and see also Committee of Privileges, First Special Report of Session 2014–15, Matter of Privilege referred to the Committee on 22 May 2012, HC 1068, paras 2–5).
- 3. In these circumstances, the committee may make a special report to the House explaining the circumstances. See Second Special Report of the Social Security Committee of Session 1992–93, HC 527; First Special Report of the Trade and Industry Committee of Session 1989–90, HC 403.