Parliamentary Etiquette

One thing that I do enjoy when listening to British parliamentary debates is the formalised speech.  Sometimes the best insults may be concealed behind the eloquence of the most fluent in this form of English.

It is archaic, but it has its own charm.  For example, in the House of Commons, one never refers to the House of Lords (the regulatory, or “upper” chamber of parliament), but to “Another Place”.

The Speaker of the House will call members to speak by name, but in all other circumstances, and by other members they are referred to as: e.g.”The Minister” or “The (Honourable) Member for Little Podlington and Sparrowbridge”, or if they happen to be on the same side, one can get away with: “My Honourable Friend”.

Apart from anything else, it’s a great test of memory when there are 650 people to remember together with their official titles if appropriate and the constituency they represent.

A classic example of the pedantry is a frequent declamation from the Speaker:
“Order! The Honourable Gentleman must not shout from a sedentary position.”, which can be interpreted as “Oy, you – shut your mouth and wait your turn.”

A wonderful example today of a minor rebuke by Mr. Speaker Bercow:
“We welcome the honourable member for X to the chamber, and we hope that she has sufficiently recovered her breath to ask her scheduled question”.
Or in other words: “You’re late, and you missed your turn.”

And you thought Chaucer and Shakespeare were difficult to understand?


By the way, I think that Mr. Speaker Bercow is looking very fatigued after the last two days of chairing parliamentary debates about “Brexit” that remind me of the old computer game “Lemmings”.   Instead of building bridges, our MPs have started digging holes in different directions and neither side now has enough bridge builders to get anyone out of the hole.