Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Letting MPs not wear ties reduces respect for Parliament, Tory MP says

The Speaker changed the rules this week

Jon Stone
Political Correspondent
Friday 30 June 2017 08:49 BST
Speaker John Bercow relaxed rules this week
Speaker John Bercow relaxed rules this week (Getty)

Allowing MPs to participate in parliamentary debates without wearing a tie “reduces the esteem” the public have for their legislature, a Conservative MP has argued.

The intervention comes after Speaker John Bercow on Thursday lifted a long-running rule that required male MPs to wear neck-ties in the chamber.

Peter Bone, a backbencher, said he believed that the new arrangement “does, sort of, slice by slice, make our parliament more like a county council or a devolved assembly”.

“Our mother of parliaments is different, it’s been built up over hundreds of years with excellent traditions and this isn’t a tradition we need to get rid of. I just think it’s a slight mistake.”

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he added: “Every time you dumb down the traditions of parliament I think it reduces the esteem of parliament.”

Mr Bone argued that the issue should have been discussed by MPs before Mr Bercow made the decision. He said the rule was “something that has been accepted for years” but when pressed admitted “it won’t make much difference at all”.

Male MPs now join women MPs in being expected to wear “smart, business-like attire”.

Peter Bone is the Tory MP for Wellingborough

The rule change was prompted on Thursday after Mr Bercow called Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake to speak in a debate despite his not wearing a tie. This prompted Mr Bone to raise a point of order commenting on Mr Brake’s clothing, whereafter the Speaker clarified his new position.

Mr Brake, speaking on the same programme, said he had had a discussion with Mr Bercow before the session in which the Speaker said he believed some of the rules of Parliament were “too draconian” and required modernising.

“I wouldn’t say I was set up but I thought it was unlikely that the Speaker would slap me down if I came into the chamber without a tie and asked a question,” he said.

“I thought what I was doing reflected some of the other changes in the chamber, the clerks don’t wear wigs anymore, you’re allowed to bring your baby into the chamber, and we are indeed allowed to mention the House of Lords.”

Mr Bercow was first elected as Speaker in June 2009 and is the only speaker since the Second World War to have been elected to the post three times.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in