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Legislative Assembly Privilege Act

[RSBC 1996] CHAPTER 259

Contents
1Privileges defined
2Compelling witnesses
3Speaker's warrant
4Protection of person acting under authority
5Power of Assembly to summarily inquire and punish
6Power to inquire and punish
7Punishment for contravention of section 5
8Proceedings on contravention of section 5
9Decision of Assembly final

Privileges defined

1  (1) The Legislative Assembly and its committees and members have the privileges, immunities and powers that were held and exercised by the Commons House of Parliament of the United Kingdom and its committees and members on February 14, 1871, so far as not inconsistent with the Constitution Act and whether held or exercised by custom, statute or otherwise.

(2) For greater certainty, but without limiting this section, the following sections are enacted.

Compelling witnesses

2  The Legislative Assembly may command and compel the attendance of persons or the production of papers and things before the Assembly or a committee of it, as the Assembly or committee considers necessary for its proceedings or deliberations.

Speaker's warrant

3  If the Legislative Assembly requires a person to attend before the Assembly or a committee of it, the Speaker may issue a warrant or subpoena directed to a person named in the Assembly's order, requiring the person to attend before the Assembly or committee and to produce certain papers and things.

Protection of person acting under authority

4  (1) A person is not liable in damages or otherwise for an act done under the authority of the Legislative Assembly, or under or because of a warrant issued under that authority.

(2) A warrant may command the assistance of all sheriffs, constables and others, and every refusal or failure to give assistance when required is an infringement of this Act.

Power of Assembly to summarily inquire and punish

5  The Legislative Assembly has the rights and privileges of a court of record to summarily inquire into and punish, as breaches of privilege or as contempt of court, without prejudice to the liability of the offender to other prosecution and punishment, the following:

(a) assaults, insults to or libels on members of the Assembly during the session of the Legislature, and 20 days before or after it;

(b) obstructing, threatening or attempting to force or intimidate members of the Assembly;

(c) offering to or acceptance of a bribe by a member of the Assembly to influence the member in proceedings as a member or offering to or acceptance of a fee, compensation or reward by a member for drafting, advising on, revising, promoting or opposing a Bill, resolution, matter or thing submitted to, or intended to be submitted to, the Assembly or a committee of it;

(d) assaults on or interference with officers of the Assembly in the execution of their duty;

(e) tampering with a witness in regard to evidence to be given by the witness before the Assembly or a committee of it;

(f) giving false evidence, prevaricating or otherwise misbehaving in giving or refusing to give evidence or produce papers before the Assembly or a committee of it;

(g) disobedience to subpoenas or warrants issued under the authority of this Act to compel witnesses to attend before the Assembly or committee of it;

(h) presenting to the Assembly or a committee of it a forged or false document with intent to deceive the Assembly or committee;

(i) forging, falsifying or unlawfully altering records of the Assembly or a committee of it, or a document or petition presented or filed, or intended to be presented or filed, before the Assembly or committee, or setting the name of another person to such a document or petition with intent to deceive;

(j) bringing a civil action or prosecution against, or causing or effecting an arrest or imprisonment of, a member of the Assembly in a civil proceeding, for a matter or thing brought by the member by petition, Bill, regulation, motion or otherwise, or said by the member before the Assembly;

(k) causing or effecting the arrest, detention or molestation of a member of the Assembly for a debt or cause of a civil nature during a session of the Assembly, or 20 days before or after it.

Power to inquire and punish

6  For the purpose of this Act, the Assembly has all powers and jurisdiction necessary or expedient to inquire into, judge and pronounce on the matters listed in section 5 and to award and carry into execution the punishment of them provided for by this Act.

Punishment for contravention of section 5

7  A person who, on an inquiry under section 5, appears to have done an act, matter or thing mentioned in that section, in addition to any other penalty or punishment to which the person may be subject, is liable to imprisonment for a period during the session of the Legislative Assembly then being held as may be determined by the Assembly.

Proceedings on contravention of section 5

8  If the Legislative Assembly declares a person guilty of contempt for an act, matter or thing mentioned in section 5, and directs the person to be taken into custody or imprisoned, the Speaker must issue a warrant to the Sergeant at Arms attending the House, or to the warden or keeper of the common jail for the County of Victoria, to take the person into custody and to keep and detain the person in accordance with the order of the Assembly.

Decision of Assembly final

9  The determination of the Legislative Assembly on a proceeding under this Act, and within the legislative authority of British Columbia, is final and conclusive.