Whips and the origins of Parliamentary Whipping

Earlier this year an Early Day Motion sponsored by a number of former chief whips and signed by a long cast of others who have served as whips marked what is being treated as the centenary of the Government Whips’ office. But while the office may be relatively young, the function of whipping is almost intrinsic to parliamentary life.

Voting against the Estimates

The failed attempt to prevent a no-deal Brexit shows how, despite the ancient idea of 'grievances before supply', it is difficult to present complex political messages through the Estimates process.

The House of Commons Steeplechase

Although it has passed the world of racing by, so far as I’m aware, this month is the 130th anniversary of what was apparently the first House of Commons Steeplechase, and possibly also the first occasion on which a formal sporting competition had been organised among Members of Parliament.

The Veto

"An astonishing rumour has been current of late. A certain section of the Unionist party is said to be encouraging the idea that it is possible, as a matter of practical politics, for the King to refuse the Royal Assent to the Home Rule Bill next May, when for the third time it has passed the House of Commons and has complied with all the requirements of the Parliament Act. … The danger may seem fanciful to many. It is impossible, it will be said, that so mad an idea could be entertained for a moment by responsible politicians. But it comes from Ulster

Standing Order No. 14

The resolution passed by the House on Monday 25 March to set aside Standing Order No. 14(1) for certain specified debates, and its successor, the business of the House motion passed on 27 March have been widely interpreted as Parliament ‘taking back control’ of its own proceedings from the government; in some quarters they have… Continue reading Standing Order No. 14

Urgency Motions

U is for the Urgency Motion, a procedure that was introduced in 1882 as part of a series of responses to the campaign of obstruction by the Irish party against the Irish Coercion bill, which had its climax in the famous forty-one hour sitting of the House of Commons from Monday 31 January to Wednesday… Continue reading Urgency Motions

Tea on the Terrace

Tea on the Terrace of the House of Commons was, by the beginning of the twentieth century, regarded as an integral part of the London ‘season’, the three month or so round of parties, races, dinners and balls (as well as rather more staid entertainments such as the Chelsea Flower Show, the Royal Tournament and the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition) that was enjoyed, or sometimes endured, by high society.