previous
next

Privilege of the Parliament.

It has long been settled that the lex et consuetudo Parliamenti does not apply to Colonial Legislatures.note While the Chambers of such a Legislature have “every power reasonably necessary for the proper exercise of their functions and duties, powers such as are necessary to the existence of such a body and the proper exercise of the functions which it is intended to execute,” this does not extend to nor justify punitive action. Accordingly, the Constitution Acts of most of the colonies have authorised the Legislature or the Houses respectively to supply this defect in their power.note The Legislature of Victoria having adopted for each House and for the Committees and members thereof the powers, privileges, and immunities of the House of Commons, it was held by the Privy Council that the doctrine of the English privilege cases applied, and that where a person was committed by order of the Legislative Assembly for contempt, there was no power in the Courts to examine the cause of contempt.note

The Constitution proceeds at once to oust the common law doctrine from application to the Parliament. “The powers, privileges, and immunities of the Senate and the House of Representatives and of the members and committees of each House shall be such as are declared by the Parliament, and until declared shall be those of the Commons House of Parliament of the United Kingdom and of its members and committees, at the establishment of the Commonwealth” (sec. 49).note The Parliament has thus plenary


  ― 115 ―
power over the subject, untrammelled by the condition that privileges shall not exceed those of the House of Commons at the date of the Constitution Acts respectively, as in the case of the other Australian Acts, or at the date of the Act conferring the privileges, as in Canada.

previous
next