The Privileges committee focuses on the rights and freedoms that allow the Parliament to do its work and make laws free from outside interference. These are collectively known as “parliamentary privilege”.
The Privileges Committee considers and reports on any matters that are referred to it by Parliament as questions of privilege relating to or concerning the privileges of Parliament or its members.
Parliamentary privileges, powers, and immunities exist to ensure the Parliament is independent of the Crown and the courts, to help it to carry out of its functions effectively, and to protect all participants in parliamentary proceedings. Examples of parliamentary privileges include freedom of speech, the power to obtain evidence, and the right for Parliament to control its own proceedings free from outside interference.
A question of privilege is raised by an MP by making a complaint to the Speaker at the earliest opportunity. The Speaker makes an assessment of whether a question of privilege is involved. If so, the Speaker rules on the matter in Parliament and it is referred to the Privileges Committee. The Privileges Committee investigates the matter and makes a recommendation to Parliament, which then decides whether to adopt the recommendation.
SO 165. (b) Privileges Committee
(1) The Privileges Committee is established at the commencement of each Parliament and consists of the number of members as agreed between the Speaker and the Business Committee, but in any event, being no fewer than five and no more than seven members.
(2) The Privileges Committee elects a chairperson and deputy chairperson from the members of the committee.
(3) The Privileges Committee considers and reports on any matter referred to it by the Parliament relating to or concerning
(a) parliamentary privilege;
(b) breaches of the Code of Conduct.
(4) The committee has the power to send for persons, papers, and records.