§ Mr. Speaker
I have a statement to make on a matter of privilege.
I received a written complaint from the hon. Member for Rutland and Stamford (Mr. Lewis), as is required under our new procedure, about the form of a memorandum widely distributed among hon. Members by the League Against Cruel Sports in connection with the Wildlife and Countryside Bill. The cover of the memorandum is headed with the name of the Bill, the Westminster portcullis badge and the words "House of Commons". There are no words describing the derivation of the memorandum on the title page. Hon. Members could be misled by the format into believing that they had received a communication that has official standing.
I consider that what has been done constituted a serious abuse of the badge and of the name of the House of Commons. I have received a letter of apology from the League Against Cruel Sports, and I propose that no further action be taken in this case. However, under our new procedures, I am authorised to make a statement on a matter of privilege if I consider that it raises issues about which the House should be informed, even if I decide that the matter does not justify my giving precedence to a motion.
I wish to make it clear to people outside the House, as well as to hon. Members, that the unauthorised use of the badge and name of the House of Commons is a serious matter. Having given that public warning, I shall not be disposed to take as lenient a view of any future case brought to my notice.