The first Speaker? The remarkable account in the Anonimalle Chronicle of the so-called ‘Good Parliament’ of 1376 provides what is generally taken to be the first reference to a ‘Speaker’ of the Commons, Sir Peter de la Mare. The account is extraordinarily detailed and circumstantial – so unusual for an account of any event in… Continue reading The Election of a Speaker
Left: Sir Arthur Onslow, by George Townshend, 4th Viscount and 1st Marquess Townshend ink drawing, 1751-1758; Right: Arthur Wellesley Peel, Viscount Peel, photogravure after Sir William Quiller Orchardson, 1898, both NPG: CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 Often, in descriptions of the office of Speaker, Christopher Yelverton’s speech of 24 October 1597, on being elected Speaker, is quoted.… Continue reading Qualifications for the Speakership
The modern practice of prorogation and adjournment is in theory, at least, clearly enough understood. Prorogation is an act of the Crown, usually used to mark the end of one session and fix a date for the start of another. Adjournment is an act of each House of Parliament, used routinely to end each day’s… Continue reading Prorogation and Adjournment
The principle that an administration can only function if it has the backing of a majority in the House of Commons is acknowledged to be a fundamental part – perhaps the fundamental part – of not only the British, but of any parliamentary constitution. It expresses the idea that Parliament itself cannot exercise executive power,… Continue reading Votes of no confidence
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.
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.
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.
"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
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
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