Palrimentary procedure

Josh captures The ‘not so great and not so good’ essence highlighted by Steve McIntyre. Bishop Hill writes in Acton and parliamentary privilege:

Steve McIntyre notes UEA’s recent submission to an Information Tribunal hearing. McIntyre had pointed out that UEA’s vice-chancellor, Edward Acton, had told the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee that the emails relating to the Wahl and Ammann affair were available. However, they told McIntyre that they no longer existed.

In their defence, the university invokes the principle of Parliamentary Privilege.

Josh finds inspiration in this.

It is not really acceptable, is it?

Cartoons by Josh with a H/t to mydogsgotnonose for the inspiring Melton Mowbray comment.

(Note: the title is intentional, a fat fingered typo that I decided to keep because it speaks to the issue of pal-review, be it in journals or parliament – Anthony)

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Bloke down the pub
May 10, 2012 9:49 am

Palrimentary procedure? If there’s an in joke there could you let me in on it?

May 10, 2012 9:52 am


May 10, 2012 9:53 am

make that Parliamentary

May 10, 2012 9:55 am

Or did you mean Pal-rimentary procedure? 🙂

May 10, 2012 9:58 am

Far too many pork pies it seems. Oh well, it will keep Melton Mowbray busy!

May 10, 2012 10:01 am

“Palrimentary”? Really? a typo or an accidental pun?
REPLY: A typo that spoke to the issue, so I decided to leave it for pun value. – Anthony

May 10, 2012 10:01 am

Notes for any puzzled readers:
Melton Mowbray is a town in England famous as a source of excellent pork pies.
‘Pork pies’ is rhyming ls rhyming slang for lies (sometimes reduced to ‘porkies’).
Finally, Josh is becoming known, in some circles over here at least, as the best cartoonist the world has ever seen …

May 10, 2012 10:08 am

It is acceptable of you are a catastrophiliac! Anything is acceptable if you follow the religion of Mann Made Global Warming ™.

May 10, 2012 10:14 am

What’s “the principle of Parliamentary privelege?” The right to misinform Parliament when in a good cause? Or the right to misinform everyone not in Parliament?

May 10, 2012 10:32 am

“Catastrophiliac” – excellent word – perhaps we should all be regrouped from warmists and deniers into catastrophiles and catastrophobes.

May 10, 2012 10:33 am

PPP=Principle of Parliamentary Privilege=the Postponing of People Poo, or, basically, “Yer covered, Vicar, lie away!”

May 10, 2012 10:51 am

steveta_uk says:
May 10, 2012 at 10:32 am
““Catastrophiliac” – excellent word – perhaps we should all be regrouped from warmists and deniers into catastrophiles and catastrophobes.”
I’m catastrognostic. But I like to know which kind of catastrophe is about to happen. Timing the market and all that…

May 10, 2012 11:00 am

“Recently Anthony Inglese, general counsel and solicitor, HMRC, was appearing before the public accounts committee………..Having finally lost patience with Inglese, the committee’s chair, Labour MP Margaret Hodge, told him: We are taking an unusual step. It is a power we have. From here onwards were going to examine you on oath.”
“The Parliamentary Witnesses Oaths Act 1871 “empowers the House of Commons and its committees to administer oaths to witnesses, and attaches to false evidence the penalties of perjury”.
“A power not lost on Hodge, who told Inglese: “I’m no lawyer, but having taken the oath you don’t want to give answers that are incorrect, as you might find yourself with the accusation of having committed perjury.”
“Hodge’s decision could lead other committee chairs to consider whether to force their witnesses to give evidence under oath.”
“Witnesses who lie to MPs while giving evidence to parliamentary committees may face criminal charges, the government has indicated.”

May 10, 2012 11:05 am

“UEA’s vice-chancellor, Edward Acton, had told the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee that the emails relating to the Wahl and Ammann affair were available. However, they told McIntyre that they no longer existed.”
So they are liars then.
“In their defence, the university invokes the principle of Parliamentary Privilege.”
Lying is a parliamentary privilege?

Richard Lawson
May 10, 2012 11:09 am

I’m not an expert on parliamentary procedure but I think parliamentary privalige in the UK only applies to Members of either chamber When speaking within the Palace of Westminster. It doesn’t apply to mere mortals like me when I happen to be at the Palace.
Maybe Ed is thinking above his station here and doesn’t realise that his is also a fully paid up member of the proletariat.

Neil Jones
May 10, 2012 11:20 am

As a UK qualified politics graduate this is something I can speak here on with some authority.
Parliamentary Privilege only applies to pronouncements made by an MP in the debating chamber of the House of Commons. Anywhere else and even the MPs are subject to the same laws on veracity as anyone else in the UK.

Rhys Jaggar
May 10, 2012 11:33 am

The Principle of Parliamentary Privilege is one which says that you can reveal things in Parliament which would get you sued off the planet if you said it outside. As long as you are a duly elected MP.
If the analogy you are trying to illuminate is that CRU will only reveal things to their friends, not Her Majesty’s most objectionable backbench MP, then perhaps ‘Privy Counsellor Terms’ is what you are looking for. Being a Privy Counsellor means you have signed the Official Secrets Act and will therefore be granted access to highly privileged information on the assumption that you don’t want to end up frying your ass in jail for revealing it in public…….
Where CRU is concerned, their research is UK Government funded, so I guess you could make an argument that they don’t have to tell a Canadian what amounts to UK State information, anymore than NASA would reveal its secrets to me, a UK citizen. I’m sure you could get Benny Peiser to front it up for you if you needed an NGO based in the UK to wheedle it out of them…..

John Silver
May 10, 2012 11:36 am

Neil Jones says:
“Parliamentary Privilege only applies to pronouncements made by an MP in the debating chamber of the House of Commons.”
Most interesting.

Tony McGough
May 10, 2012 11:37 am

If I remember correctly, parliamentary privilege belongs primarily to members (of either house) for remarks made in the course of their business in Westminster – so the truth can out and they can’t be sued for eg libel. This can be jolly good for their constituents, to correct injustice.
This is extended to witnesses to committees, for the same reason. So the truth will out.
BUT! if you decide as a witness to mislead the House, then they can promptly fine you (not done since the seventeenth century) or imprison you (on the spot – no judges involved). Imprisonment has been done in more recent times. These days one of the select committees (Privileges?) would decide what to do, and the whole house would vote yea or nay.
Fundamentally, if you deceive the House it can turn round and smite you instantly. No appeal.

May 10, 2012 11:54 am

Catastrophiliac,catastrophiles and catastrophobes.
Excellent use of language, Steve_UK. The word.catastrophiliac is already in the urban dictionary. So descriptive.

Mac the Knife
May 10, 2012 12:23 pm

Perhaps ‘Alimentary Procedure’ would apply better?!! Parliament (or Congress) provides the funding ‘nourishment’ to the global warming gluttons…. and we are expected to appreciate, even revere, the plethora of crap science and ‘impending doom’ flatulence they produce.
“It’s alimentary, my Dear Watson!”

John Blake
May 10, 2012 12:24 pm

Suggest that “coprophagic proctocranial” would be a more descriptive term than “catastrophiliac”.

Ken Harvey
May 10, 2012 12:39 pm

Tony McGough says:
May 10, 2012 at 11:37 am
Well said Mr.McGough. That pretty well tallies, as best as I remember, with what I was taught at school in London as a ten or eleven year old back in the nineteenforties. Things have changed a great deal in the meantime. These days the schools don’t seem to be able to teach children to read, let alone teach them nuggets of constitutional law.

May 10, 2012 1:00 pm

Maybe an Alimentary Procedure?

May 10, 2012 1:17 pm

Canadian Parliament
Freedom of speech permits Members to speak freely in the Chamber during a sitting or in committees during meetings while enjoying complete immunity from prosecution or civil liability for any comment they might make.[156] This freedom is essential for the effective working of the House. Under it, Members are able to make statements or allegations about outside bodies or persons, which they may hesitate to make without the protection of privilege. Though this is often criticized, the freedom to make allegations which the Member genuinely believes at the time to be true, or at least worthy of investigation, is fundamental. The House of Commons could not work effectively unless its Members were able to speak and criticize without having to account to any outside body. There would be no freedom of speech if everything had to be proven true before it were uttered. In ruling on a question of privilege in 1984, Speaker Bosley affirmed that “the privilege of a Member of Parliament when speaking in the House or in a committee is absolute, and that it would be very difficult to find that any statement made under the cloak of parliamentary privilege constituted a violation of that privilege”.[157]
This right is also extended to individuals who appear before the House or its committees in order to encourage truthful and complete disclosure, without fear of reprisal or other adverse actions as a result of their testimony. In 2005, the Federal Court of Appeal ruled that the testimony of parliamentary witnesses fell within the scope of parliamentary privilege because it is necessary for the functioning of Parliament for three reasons: “to encourage witnesses to speak openly before the Parliamentary committee, to allow the committee to exercise its investigative function and, in a more secondary way, to avoid contradictory findings of fact”.[158]
In 2007, the Federal Court again upheld that a witness’s testimony before a House committee is protected by parliamentary privilege:
[A]lthough witnesses before a parliamentary committee are not Members of Parliament, they are not strangers to the House either. Rather they are guests who are afforded parliamentary privilege because, as with members, the privilege is necessary to ensure that they are able to speak openly, free from the fear that their words will be used against them in subsequent proceedings ….

May 10, 2012 1:29 pm

Speaking of fat-fingered typos: Aldous Huxley was typing “the human comedy” but his finger hit the next letter over and it came out as “the human vomedy.” He kept it.

May 10, 2012 1:37 pm

Wow! WUWT is extra fun today. I thought the subtile use of Pal-rimentary (and pal-review) hit the mark for ridicule that works perfectly when one understands the issues well, but John at 12:24 went a step further with coprophagic proctocranial. It describes Hansen and Mann well — those who “consume” their own BS.

May 10, 2012 1:45 pm

Josh has captured another bizarre element in the CAGW saga. This one is like Ford pardoning Nixon for a crime he hadn’t been charged with.
There should be some Latin phrase for this: the prior exoneration for a non-present charge of misconduct.
It is said that when small boys deny breaking the lamp that you saw them break, they are responding to an interior conflict. The conflict is a belief that only bad boys break lamps, and we are not bad boys, so we cannot have broken the lamp.
Jones, Mann, Hansen, Gore, Suzuki, Gleick (sort of), The Heartland, Romm: would this explanation of the state of denial found in juveniles not explain the outrage each of these display when questioned about their claims, charges and predictions?
We need a Latin phrase for that, too. Absurbia non est sum? Denialata, ergo cogito qualiatum? Cogito climatica, ergo non errata?

May 10, 2012 1:56 pm

To be a true catastrophiliac you must also be anthracophobic, i.e. possess a fear or hatred of carbon.

May 10, 2012 2:02 pm

Bob [May 10, 2012 at 11:54 am] says:
“Catastrophiliac,catastrophiles and catastrophobes.”

I really like catastrophobes. I’ll be using that. Thank you.

May 10, 2012 2:09 pm

What would the word be when you have a morbid fear of catastrophists?
Catastrophes I can handle. Catastrophists scare me terribly: whatever they do, they can do with the authority of preventing worse things happening to others in a future defined by “later”.

May 10, 2012 2:28 pm

Parliamentary Privilege was legally tested not too long ago (a matter of a year or so) when an MP stood in the House of Commons and named a woman who was engaged in a legal battle in the Family Court. This is where the Government seizes very young children from their parents and puts them up for adoption. ( Read or search the Daily Telegraph site for Christopher Booker for more information of this infamous procedure.
The Family Court operates under rules of very strict security and it attempted to gag an MP before he spoke in the House. The attempt was unsuccessful because Parliamentary Privilege applied.
Only MPs or Lords of the Realm, when speaking only in their respective Houses can claim Parliamentary Privilege. No-one else can avail themselves of this legal cover.

Ian E
May 10, 2012 2:28 pm

In the Hypocracy that the UK has become, this is , of course, fully acceptable!

Armagh Observatory
May 10, 2012 2:31 pm

The point is not one of a meaningless and bogus claim of Parliamentary privilege by a public body (UEA) but a clear admission by UEA that it failed to comply with Steve’s FOI request.
When an FOI request (or for that matter a Data Subject Access Request is receieved by an organisation, all data requested MUST by law by be supplied (subject to very tight exemptions)
The UEA has opened itself up to a legal claim for any and all losses suffered by Steve as a result of UEA’s failure to comply, and a court order for disclosure of any other data which it is withholding.
Such an action could be pursued through the Small Claims system and cost no more tham £35.
I myself have used this very piece of legislation in court to enforce my rights as a data subject, to my data held by banks in order to sue them for return of funds unlawfully appropriated many years in the past.
( I won, by the way.)

May 10, 2012 5:22 pm

This is a copy of what I posted at Climate Audit earlier about Parliamentary Privilege. US readers probably have a different, but related system. I’d be interested to hear about the differences, if any. It is not often that I get to be an expert at WUWT, but this is something I know inside out. Here we go:
It is quite common for Ministers’ speeches and answers to questions about legislation to be used in the courts to help to clarify what the intention of the legislation is. But that has nothing to do with PP.
Under the doctrine of PP, anything said by a Member of Parliament during parliamentary proceedings is absolutely immune from any external civil or criminal action. The Parliament is expected to discipline its own members. With regard to witness testimony before Committees, as was explained above, sometimes the testimony is covered by PP and sometimes it isn’t.
However, even if testimony (or something an MP admits to) is covered by PP, that doesn’t preclude outside authorities from making inquiries if they believe a crime has been committed, or people suing if they believe that they have been wronged civilly. They just can’t use, or refer to in any way, what was said under PP when presenting their case in a court or tribunal. An MP can’t admit to murder in Parliament under privilege and be immune from prosecution because of it. But the admission has no legal standing if the MP is subsequently charged.
PP is not a get out of jail free card.
I hope that clarifies things.
What this comment doesn’t cover is that Parliament has significant powers to deal with anyone who lies to it (imprisonment or fines). The trouble is, if they did that, it would raise the question of why MPs who lie to the Parliament do not get the same treatment.

Gail Combs
May 10, 2012 6:07 pm

P.F. says:
May 10, 2012 at 1:37 pm
Wow! WUWT is extra fun today. I thought the subtile use of Pal-rimentary (and pal-review) hit the mark for ridicule that works perfectly when one understands the issues well, but John at 12:24 went a step further with coprophagic proctocranial. It describes Hansen and Mann well — those who “consume” their own BS.
Both are wonderful but I really like “coprophagic proctocranial.”

Rhoda R
May 10, 2012 6:41 pm

For those who are interested: A sitting Senator or Representative cannot be sued for anything he/she says while in chambers. This protection is gone when they step out of chamber.

May 10, 2012 10:12 pm

i don’t know about this. I sure like Josh’s cartoon but as to lying to Parliament another story. That takes place all the time. Very frequently here in Canada and by the government members more often then not. The only consequences so far have seen the present bunch of nuts information-nazies, this time with a majority.

May 10, 2012 10:48 pm

Contempt of Parliament
264. Contempts comprise any conduct (including words) which improperly interferes, or is intended or likely improperly to interfere, with the performance by either House of its functions, or the performance by a member or officer of the House of his duties as a member or officer.[300] The scope of contempt is broad, because the actions which may obstruct a House or one of its committees in the performance of their functions are diverse in character. Each House has the exclusive right to judge whether conduct amounts to improper interference and hence contempt. The categories of conduct constituting contempt are not closed. The following is a list of some types of contempt:
— deliberately attempting to mislead the House or a committee (by way of statement, evidence, or petition)
— deliberately publishing a false or misleading report of the proceedings of a House or a committee
Penalties: the present position
271. Historically the power to adjudge a contempt is linked to the power to commit to prison.[313] In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries committal to the custody of the Serjeant-at-Arms, or to prison, was a regular punishment. The House of Commons has power to imprison until the end of the current parliamentary session, however long or short that may be. The House of Lords has power to imprison indefinitely.

May 12, 2012 6:46 am

– a global warming alarmist who has lied to Parliament, and suffered the consequences;
– a nutter and a nuttee.

May 12, 2012 9:58 am

Dennis Nikols says: May 10, 2012 at 10:12 pm
Dennis, I do not understand your above post.
It is true that the Canadian government has as its Environment Minister a former broadcaster who is apparently a warmist, and an Environment Department full of many more warmist scoundrels and imbeciles.
However, the current Harper government is infinitely more competent and less corrupt than its Liberal predecessors. The Chretien empire was as corrupt as many third-world kleptocracies, and shamelessly stole and squandered Canada’s wealth.
Harper and his Ministers are now undoing Chretien’s ridiculous and wasteful policies, but it will take time. Note that Canada was among the first countries to withdraw from the idiotic Kyoto Protocol.
Harper is reportedly a climate skeptic, but is wise enough to keep quiet about it. He knows what just happened to Michelle Smith in the recent Alberta election, when she dared to suggest that “the science was NOT settled”. Michelle’s strong lead in the polls turned into an electoral defeat in just two weeks, as over 100,000 traditionally socialist (Liberal and NDP) voters “voted strategically” for the ruling Conservatives.
Canada now has the strongest economy in the world, the most stable banks, and is the biggest foreign supplier of oil to the USA. All of this was achieved with a Parliamentary Minority – Harper now has a majority and can rid Canada of the rest of Chretien’s nonsense.
I submit that Stephen Harper is the most honest and competent Prime Minister and runs the best government that Canada has seen in generations.
If you disagree, please be specific and provide real evidence.

May 12, 2012 2:28 pm

Allan MacRae says: May 12, 2012 at 9:58 am
Correction: Danielle Smith

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