At Business Questions today Joy Morrissey MP asked a question about freedom of speech in light of recent police investigations.
Joy Morrissey: In the light of the Darren Grimes case, where it seems it is now permissible for a man to be subject to police investigation for simply asking a question—Orwell come to life—will my right hon. Friend agree that we are endangering a free press by allowing and endorsing censorship disguised in the sugar-coating of social justice?
Mr Rees-Mogg: The police are obviously operationally independent, so I would not want to speak about a particular case. I will say this, however. Freedom of speech is one of the pillars of our constitution. Without freedom of speech we find that democracy fails, because there is no ability to question what people are doing and saying. We know that over the centuries regimes that attack freedom of speech often do so through legal means. We used to have criminal libel in this country, which was used in the 18th century to silence people who said disobliging things about the Government. We do not want to be in the situation where laws are used to stop freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is valuable whether it is responsible speech or irresponsible speech, as long as it does not incite hatred or violence. That is the key, and freedom of speech must be protected by this House.