Scottish National Party MPs have descended on Westminster and are apparently breaking parliamentary rules by taking selfies and applauding. Heres are some other things MPs can't do.
Use anyone’s names
This rule sounds like part of a bad drinking game, but it’s true. MPs are not allowed to refer to each other by name and instead always refer to “the honourable member for…” the place they were elected to.
If you can’t remember where someone is MP for you can refer to them as “the honourable gentleman” or “the honourable lady”.
If you’re talking about someone from the same party they can be referred to as “my honourable friend”, while members of the privy council – usually ministers –are “the right honourable”.
The exception to this is the Speaker, who can refer to anyone he likes by name.
Talk to anyone except the Speaker
MPs are only allowed to speak to one person in the House of Commons: the Speaker. Nobody else is ever directly addressed.
This is why politicians talk in the way that they do, beginning their sentences with “Mr Speaker”, and referring to “he” or “she” instead of “you” when making points about their opponents or friends in a debate.
In reality, MPs do chat and whisper to each other on the back-benches, though this isn't part of the debate.
No one is allowed to take photos or shoot videos in the chamber apart from the fixed TV cameras we’re used to seeing debates through.
This is one of the reasons why the BBC’s recent documentary, Inside The Commons, was so striking – it brought the place to life with angles we don’t normally see. In that case, the film makers received special permission that had never before been granted.
Photography is also banned in most of the Palace of Westminster for security reasons and restricted to the public areas of Westminster Hall, St Stephen’s Hall, New Palace Yard – as well as private rooms.
Call someone a liar
Parliament has strict rules on “unparliamentary language” isn’t allowed in. One banned word in particular stands out: ‘liar’.
MPs who who accuse each other of lying are usually asked to withdraw the remarks by the Speaker, or face a suspension.
Call someone a hypocrite
You’re also not allowed to call a fellow MP a ‘hypocrite’ – another word which many voters would probably consider useful in a room full of politicians.
This may be related to the conventions of Cabinet government. Under cabinet collective responsibility, ministers must publicly support every decision the government makes or face the sack.
In reality, nobody really supports every decision every government makes and thus hypocrisy is practically built into the system.
Use any number of bizarre archaic insults
Many of Parliament’s banned words are incredibly archaic. On the banned list you will find “pipsqueak”, “swine”, “rat”, “blackguard” and “tart”. A “blackguard” originally referred to a lowly servant but came to mean 'scoundrel'.
Wear a T-shirt
Parliament has a very strict dress code – men are expected to wear a shirt and tie, while women are expected to dress in business-like clothing. T-shirts wearing slogans are not allowed.
MPs won’t be barred from entering the chamber, but tend not to ‘catch the eye’ of the Speaker to participate in debates.
Both Green MP Caroline Lucas and Labour MP Harriet Harman have worn feminist slogan t-shirts in the Commons in recent years. Ms Lucas spoke in Westminster Hall wearing one and was admonished, while Ms Harman was apparently not noticed.
Wear armour in the chamber
It has been illegal to wear a suit of armour in the House of Commons for just over 700 years. This stems from a 1313 statute passed under King Edward II named Statutum de Defensione portandi Arma (Statute Forbidding the wearing of Weapons)
Before this, armour was fine. The bill was apparently passed because “certain persons” had disrupted debates. Swords in the chamber are also banned by the same statute, and MPs are to this day given a loop next to their coat hook to hang their swords in the cloakroom.
Speak in Welsh
The United Kingdom’s regions promote a number of languages: Most notably, Welsh has half a million speakers, Scots tens of thousands, and a similar number Irish.
Unfortunately for speakers of these languages, speeches in the House of Commons can only be made in English. Quotations in other languages are allowed, however.
Unlike in the European Parliament there are no live translation services available for members.
Appointments in David Cameron's Tory government
Appointments in David Cameron's Tory government
1/7 Amber Rudd: Energy and Climate Change Secretary
Wins a big promotion after increasing her majority in Hastings and Rye despite once describing her constituency as a “bit depressing”. The former banker and financial journalist is considered a moderate Eurosceptic
2/7 Priti Patel: Employment Minister (attending Cabinet)
Former party press officer and now the Witham MP is rewarded for her forceful performances during the election campaign. She is on the right of the party and a Eurosceptic. Ms Patel has called for the return of hanging
3/7 John Whittingdale: Culture Secretary
Having never been a minister in his 23 years as an MP John Whittingdale’s elevation to the Cabinet is meteoric. But his appointment sends a message to Tory backbenchers that preferment is possible even for those who may have given up hope (and be tempted to rebel)
4/7 Anna Soubry: Minister for Small Business
Not long ago the former defence minister feared she would not even be an MP but now she has a key role in the Department for Business and the right to attend Cabinet
5/7 Sajid Javid: Business Secretary
Rising star tipped as Britain’s first prime minister from an ethnic minority. Son of a bus driver, he grew up in two-bedroom flat in Bristol. After university he joined Deutsche Bank. Parliamentary aide to George Osborne before becoming Treasury minister and Culture Secretary
6/7 Greg Clark: Communities Secretary
Thoughtful moderniser who grew up in Middlesbrough where his father and grandfather were milkmen. Was a special adviser before entering Parliament in 2005. In previous ministerial posts he drew up plans to devolve powers to cities
7/7 Matthew Hancock: Cabinet Office minister and Paymaster General
A former aide to George Osborne before becoming an MP in 2010 election. Hancock has had a meteoric ministerial rise