MPs are to be given a guide to House of Commons etiquette after a series of lapses of parliamentary p’s and q’s following a point of order raised by Michael Fabricant to the Speaker in the House of Commons yesterday.
The Speaker, Michael Martin, said he would issue a new guide to MPs after concerns that they were not observing the House courtesies. Mr Martin said some MPs had ignored a letter he sent them last year reminding them of the conventions of the Commons chamber. The Speaker has frequently had to remind MPs not to shout. Discourtesies included forgetting to nod to the Speaker before leaving the chamber, moving across the line of sight between the Speaker and a minister, and reading speeches.
Mr Martin said: "At the beginning of this Parliament, I issued to all members, old and new, guidance on the conventions and the courtesies of the House. It may have been that some members have forgotten what was contained in my letter. It is therefore my intention to issue a revised and expanded version of this letter to all members within the next few weeks. I hope you all will read its contents with care."
Michael Fabricant told the Speaker: "Many traditions and conventions pertain in the House. Although many are written down in Standing Orders, many are not. I have noticed that, in the past few years, some of the customs have degraded and hon. Members have lost sight of them. For example, I have seen people move in the line of sight between you, the Minister, and an hon. Member who is asking a question. I have seen some hon. Members reading speeches and others leaving the Chamber without nodding to you. I do not believe that that is meant as a discourtesy to you. However, the large intake of new Members on both sides of the House after the past two general elections means that there has been no opportunity to explain to hon. Members what ought and what ought not to be done in the House. Do you believe that it is now time to produce a guidebook for Members of Parliament, old and new, on how to behave with courtesy in the Chamber?"
The Speaker agreed.