Thursday, 1 May 2014

MPs getting rowdy in the Commons

An example of the (Deputy) Speaker trying to assert control over a rowdy House of Commons:

The rules on the behaviour of MPs are rather strict - when speaking in the House of Commons you are not permitted to accuse another MP of lying, no matter how strong the evidence may be. That would be 'unparliamentary language'.

MPs can be ejected from the Commons chamber for breaking the rules, and this has happened to the likes of George Galloway and Ian Paisley over the years. In most cases 'the Speaker' will intervene, an MP who doesn't take part in votes and basically puts aside his/her loyalty to their own party to see that the Commons runs smoothly: they decide who gets to speak, in what order, for how long, whether they have broken any rules, and oversees the scheduling of debates - which bills get a chance of a first/second/third reading.

Here's an example of an MP doing what 'Tarzan' (the nickname given to Tory MP, later a powerful government minister, Michael Heseltine) did back in 1976 - swinging the mace that lies between the two front benches.

By the way, did you know that the gap between the benches is measured in sword lengths, to avoid conflict?!
Below the line: several videos showing MPs misbehaving!

Here's an MP getting thrown out of the Commons for accusing MPs of lying:

In a similar fashion, Labour MP Tam Dalyell was ejected in 2003 over his comments in an Iraq debate. The Speaker here, John Bercow, has often clashed with PM Cameron.

Going back a little bit further, here's the then DUP (Northern Ireland's biggest party) leader Ian Paisley being thrown out by the first female Speaker in history, Betty Boothroyd:

He's not the only DUP MP to have suffered this fate!

In the week where we've seen an MP resigning for being caught out taking payments in return for asking questions in Parliament, it seemed timely to look back at some cases of MPs being disciplined for rather less serious issues!

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