Chapter 8: Parliamentary privilege

401    Privileges Committee

(1)     The Privileges Committee considers and reports on any matter referred to it by the House relating to or concerning parliamentary privilege.

(2)     The committee has the power to send for persons, papers, and records.

402    Raising a matter of privilege

(1)     A member may raise a matter of privilege with the Speaker in writing at the earliest opportunity.

(2)     In any case a matter of privilege must be raised before the next sitting of the House or, if the matter relates to the proceedings of a select committee, before the commencement of the sitting of the House following the day of the next meeting of the committee concerned.

(3)     If, in the Speaker’s opinion, a matter of privilege is raised that should be treated as a request that the Registrar of Pecuniary and Other Specified Interests of Members of Parliament conduct an inquiry under clause 16 of Appendix B, the Speaker forwards the matter to the Registrar without considering it further.

(4)     A matter of privilege relating to the conduct of strangers present may be raised forthwith in the House and dealt with in such way as the Speaker determines.

403    Allegation of breach of privilege or contempt

An allegation of breach of privilege or of contempt must be formulated as precisely as possible so as to give any person against whom it is made a full opportunity to respond to it.

404    Consideration by Speaker

(1)     The Speaker considers a matter of privilege and determines if a question of privilege is involved.

(2)     In considering if a question of privilege is involved, the Speaker takes account of the degree of importance of the matter which has been raised.

(3)     No question of privilege is involved if the matter is technical or trivial and does not warrant the further attention of the House.

405    Members to be informed of allegations against them

Any member raising a matter of privilege which involves another member of the House must, as soon as reasonably practicable after raising the matter, forward to that other member a copy of the matter that has been raised with the Speaker.

406    Speaker’s ruling

(1)     If the Speaker considers that a matter involves a question of privilege, this is reported to the House at the first opportunity.

(2)     The Speaker will not report to the House that a matter involving another member involves a question of privilege without first informing that member that it is intended to do so.

407    Question of privilege stands referred to Privileges Committee

Any matter reported to the House by the Speaker, or by the Registrar of Pecuniary and Other Specified Interests of Members of Parliament under Appendix B, as involving a question of privilege stands referred to the Privileges Committee.

408    Maker of allegation not to serve on inquiry

A member who makes an allegation of breach of privilege or of contempt may not serve on an inquiry into that allegation.

409    Contempt of House

(1)     The House may treat as a contempt any act or omission which—

(a)     obstructs or impedes the House in the performance of its functions, or

(b)     obstructs or impedes any member or officer of the House in the discharge of the member’s or officer’s duty, or

(c)     has a tendency, directly or indirectly, to produce such a result.

(2)     In deciding whether or not to treat any act or omission as a contempt, the House may consider—

(a)     the conduct of any person taking part in parliamentary proceedings:

(b)     the nature of any action taken against any person on account
of that person’s actions when taking part in parliamentary proceedings.

410    Examples of contempts

Without limiting the generality of Standing Order 409, the House may treat as a contempt any of the following:

(a)     the breach of one of the privileges of the House:

(b)     deliberately attempting to mislead the House or a committee (by way of statement, evidence, or petition):

(c)     serving legal process or causing legal process to be served within the parliamentary precincts, without the authority of the House or the Speaker, on any day on which the House sits or a committee meets:

(d)     removing, without authority, any papers or records belonging to the House:

(e)     falsifying or altering any papers or records belonging to the House:

(f)      as a member, failing to declare, before participating in the consideration of any item of business, any financial interest that the member has in that business:

(g)     as a member, knowingly failing to make a return of pecuniary and other specified interests by the due date:

(h)     as a member, knowingly providing false or misleading information in a return of pecuniary and other specified interests:

(i)      as a member, requesting without any reasonable grounds that the Registrar of Pecuniary and Other Specified Interests of Members of Parliament conduct an inquiry into another member under clause 16 of Appendix B:

(j)      as a member, receiving or soliciting a bribe to influence the member’s conduct in respect of proceedings in the House or at a committee:

(k)     as a member, accepting fees for professional services rendered by the member in connection with proceedings in the House or at a committee:

(l)      offering or attempting to bribe a member to influence the member’s conduct in respect of proceedings in the House or at a committee:

(m)    assaulting, threatening, or intimidating a member or an officer of the House acting in the discharge of the member’s or the officer’s duty:

(n)     obstructing or molesting a member or an officer of the House in the discharge of the member’s or the officer’s duty:

(o)     reflecting on the character or conduct of the House or of a member in the member’s capacity as a member of the House:

(p)     misconducting oneself in the presence of the House or a committee:

(q)     divulging the proceedings or the report of a select committee or a subcommittee contrary to the Standing Orders:

(r)      publishing a false or misleading account of proceedings before the House or a committee:

(s)      failing to attend before the House or a committee after being ordered to do so:

(t)      failing to obey an order of the House or a summons issued by order of the House or by the Speaker:

(u)     intimidating, preventing, or hindering a witness from giving evidence, or giving evidence in full, to the House or a committee:

(v)     refusing to answer a question as ordered by the House or a committee:

(w)    assaulting, threatening, or disadvantaging a member on account of the member’s conduct in Parliament:

(x)     assaulting, threatening, or disadvantaging a person on account of evidence given by that person to the House or a committee:

(y)     knowingly making reference to a matter that is suppressed by an order of a New Zealand court, contrary to the Standing Orders, in any proceedings of the House or of a committee.

411    Reference to parliamentary proceedings before court

(1)     Subject to this Standing Order, permission of the House is not required for reference to be made to proceedings in Parliament in any proceedings before a court.

(2)     Reference to proceedings in Parliament is subject always to article 9 of section 1 of the Bill of Rights 1688, which prohibits the impeaching or calling into question in a court of such proceedings. Nothing in paragraph (1) is intended to derogate from the operation of article 9.

(3)     Paragraph (1) does not authorise reference to proceedings in Parliament contrary to any Standing Order or other order of the House relating to the disclosure of proceedings of the House or of a committee of the House.

412    Evidence of proceedings not to be given

The Clerk and other officers of the House and any other person employed to make a transcript of proceedings of the House or of a committee may not give evidence of proceedings in Parliament without the authority of the House.