Resignation

‘The acceptance of the Chiltern Hundreds is a dodge which was discovered in the middle of the 18th century, by which the immemorial rule of Parliament, that a man could not resign, was evaded, and which gave the necessary elasticity and alleviation of the rules; and ever since that date, although the rule that a member may not resign has remained in undiminished force, it has always been got out of by this curious practice of taking an office of emolument under the Crown, an office which carries with it no emolument, and which is not, except in any but the most technical sense, under the Crown at all’.

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Questions

In either House there are two principal usages for the word question. Curiously, the two are procedurally direct opposites. The sequence of Member moving a motion, and the Speaker ultimately putting the same proposition as a Question to the House is the basic building block of parliamentary procedure.

Pairs and Proxies

P is for Pairs and Proxies, both ways of ensuring that individual members of Parliament can be absent without affecting the outcome of any vote, and while P is not for substitutes, since these can be aimed at achieving a similar end, we might as well deal with them here too. The current interest in… Continue reading Pairs and Proxies

Notice (and Notice of Motion)

The requirement to give advance notice of any motion other than very narrowly procedural ones is now one of the fundamental principles of parliamentary business in both Houses. It’s a basic requirement these days for just about any action of significance in just about any formal process. But it seems to have been relatively late… Continue reading Notice (and Notice of Motion)

Motions

M is for Motions, the key devices by which anything is initiated in either House of Parliament. They are to be distinguished from Questions, the form in which the Speaker puts proposals to the House for decision. These days the two are always essentially the same. But in earlier times the relationship between them has been rather more complicated.

Leader of the House of Commons

L is for Leader of the House of Commons, the minister in charge of Commons business on behalf of the government, and a position which used to be virtually synonymous with the premiership. The most frequently quoted description of the role of Leader of the House of Commons seems still to be Gladstone’s, in an… Continue reading Leader of the House of Commons