How Stuff Works: Parliamentary Naming – Addressing a fellow MP in the Chamber

The House of Commons is a unique place, full of ancient rules governing everything from what members may say to how they may leave the chamber. With the frequent broadcast of Parliamentary clips and growing popularity of Prime Minister’s Questions, many might wonder why members of parliament refer to each other in the way that they do. The ground rules of addressing fellow MPs in the chamber are as follows:

For the following examples we will use Jeremy Hunt, MP for South West Surrey, and member of the Privy Council, as the person we are addressing.

                Use of names and ‘you’ are not allowed

Referring to an MP by their name, such as ‘Jeremy’ or ‘Hunt’ is unparliamentary.

Using the pronoun ‘you’ is also breach of parliamentary protocol – ‘you’ always refers to the Speaker or Deputy Speaker.

                Official titles must be used instead – Constituency titles

In place of names and pronouns, MPs must refer to each other using official title, for example ‘The Honourable Member for South West Surrey”.

When an MP is also a member of the Privy Council[1], ‘Right’ suffixes their title, ‘The Right Honourable Member for South West Surrey”.

Furthermore, when referring to a Member from the same party, or from a coalition partner, the Member must account for this relationship: ‘My (Right) Honourable Friend, the Member for South West Surrey’.

It is also possible for members to substitute ‘Member’, with ‘Gentleman’ or ‘Lady’.

                Ministerial titles

Those MPs who are Ministers – either Secretaries of State or Junior Ministers – are often referred to as ‘the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport’ or ‘the Minister for <department>’, in place of their parliamentary title. Either their ministerial title or their constituency title may be used and is a choice is at the discretion of the member speaking.

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