Press release

Number 10 Press Briefing - Morning From 20 May 2011

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

From the Prime Minister's spokesperson on: Super injunctions/privacy laws, Chris Huhne and the International Monetary Fund.

Super injunctions/privacy law

Asked what the Prime Minister’s response was to the Master of Rolls’ report on super injunctions, in particular his point about MPs flouting court injunctions by using Parliamentary privilege, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) said that it was important to find the right balance between individuals’ rights to privacy on the one hand, and the right to freedom of expression on the other.  The report being published today was very useful and we would consider it carefully.

The PMS went on to say that on the issue of Parliamentary privilege the report did not make any recommendations for changes to take place, but that it had looked at the issue and they would be talking to the Speaker of the House Commons and the Lords Speaker.

Asked if the Prime Minister shared the Master of Rolls’ concerns expressed during his press conference about MPs using Parliamentary privilege to flout court injunctions, the PMS said that he had not heard the Master of Rolls’ exact comments but the report did not make any recommendations on the principle of Parliamentary privilege as it would not be the committee’s role to do that.

Put that the Master of Rolls seemed to be saying in his press conference this morning that action could be taken against peers who flout court injunctions, the PMS said that the report stated that Article 9 of the Bill of Rights 1689 recognised and enshrined a longstanding privilege of Parliament’s freedom of speech and debate.  It was an absolute privilege and of the highest constitutional importance.  Any attempts by the courts to go beyond that constitutional boundary would be unconstitutional.

Put that the Master of Rolls had also attacked the role of the media at his press conference, the PMS referred to the report which said that media reporting of what was said in Parliament was only protected if it was a summary of Hansard published in good faith.  This is something we would consider, along with the rest of the report.

Chris Huhne

Asked if the Prime Minister had spoken to Chris Huhne about the allegations against him and if it was the case that the Energy Secretary should step aside, the PMS said that he did not normally go into detail about conversations the Prime Minister had with Cabinet members.  The position was as set out on Monday: Chris Huhne had denied all allegations and welcomed a police investigation.

Asked if the Prime Minister had full confidence in Chris Huhne, the PMS said yes.

International Monetary Fund

Asked what the Prime Minister thought about the possibility of Lord Mandelson becoming head of the International Monetary Fund, the PMS said that we wanted the best candidate for the job, but as yet there were no candidates.

Asked if we would be putting forward a candidate, the PMS said that candidates usually put themselves forward.