3

Various types of communication are considered protected under UK law:

  • Doctor/Patient
  • Client/Lawyer
  • Confessor/Priest

It seems logical to me that constituents should be free to communicate with their MPs without fear of that communication becoming public or being handed to any third party, such as the police (with the exception of abusive communications).

Does such a provision exist in law, or is the confidentiality of MPs communications simply rely upon convention?

I'd also be interested to know if the law is different for MPs, MSPs and SMs.

2
  • Medical records, including communications where applicable, are not privileged to the same extent legal communications are. They fall within section 12 and can be obtained by a warrant or production order under section 9 and Schedule 1 of PACE1984
    – user35069
    Commented Sep 12, 2022 at 17:21
  • So far as I know there is not a constituent-MP privilege, but I won't answer as I don't know chapter and verse for the UK.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Sep 12, 2022 at 18:37

2 Answers 2

3

What protections are there for constituent to MP communications?

Not much...

MPs are protected by privilege only when they are engaged in proceedings in Parliament, and have no special protection for anything they do outside those proceedings. It’s important to remember that not everything that happens in Parliament is a proceeding. This means that the protections of privilege don’t apply to some things you might expect to be covered. For example, they don’t apply to

  • correspondence with constituents or ministers

... [Source UK Parliament]

Unless, I assume, the correspondence is directly related to Parliamentary proceedings.

1
  • A couple of observations: (1) the privilege belongs to and primarily protects the MP not to the constituent, and (2) the privilege is predominantly a right to be free from legal consequences for actions of the MP, not from disclosure of privileged matters (much like the U.S. Speech and Debate clause privilege) which in the case of parliamentary proceedings are often made in public as a matter of public record.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Sep 12, 2022 at 22:11
2

Some are, some aren’t

Parliamentary privilege covers actions in parliament or committee and actions outside those but directly related.

Examples of documents prepared for or incidental to the transacting of the business of a House or committee include:

  • letters from constituents which seek parliamentary action and which can be shown to have a direct connection with parliamentary proceedings – such as a request from a constituent to ask a question or raise a particular matter in debate (but see below).

Examples of documents or actions not covered include:

  • general constituency correspondence, including with ministers, passing on concerns or issues raised by constituents – such as problems with government agencies or programs (but a qualified privilege may apply – see chapter 2 of Odgers’ Australian Senate Practice, under “Provision of information to members”)

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .