The House of Commons


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The House of Commons

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Nov 5, 2009, 8:30 am

Perhaps someone here can explain to me exactly how the House of Commons works because whenever I've tuned in to C-Span in the past and see the Prime Minister making a Speech someone from the Opposition Party will stand up along with a group of other people that person will make some comments and then they'll sit down the Prime Minister replies then a group of other people stands up. I know I'm not the only American who's confused by this system. If I knew and fully understood their process on how they do things than maybe I could watch more of the House of Commons proceedings than I do right now. I get so confused since I don't know what's going on at the time I just wind up turning the channel even though I find it interesting to listen in to the Prime Minister and see what's happening from time to time.


Nov 5, 2009, 9:04 am

The major televised event every week is Prime Minister's Questions (other ministers also have there own questions). Here people take it in turns to ask questions of the Prime Minister who answers them (often without giving a direct answer of any sort).

Statements to the house don't tend to have lots of interruptions. Debates (including the debating of bills) vary on how lively they are.

From your description it sounds like you are describing Prime Minister's Questions.

The BBC have a new website (I don't know if it is available outside the UK) which seems OK for those who want to watch.

Nov 5, 2009, 9:15 am

Thanks for the inf. andyl but I still don't understand why evreyone there doesn't stand up or sti down at the same time. There's only a small group of people who I see do this and it seems like it's a different group too. Like they all take turns doing this.


Editado: Nov 5, 2009, 9:35 am

I certainly don't want anyone here to get the wrong impression and think I'm trying to make fun of the House of Commons which of course is not my intention. I only want to understand what I'm seeing in the House of Commons. I've also been very curious about how someone knows it's their turn to stand up and sit down at the right moment. I do know the other members I see there are from a lot of different Voting Districts and Boroughs.

I guess I should try to locate some good books about the House of Commons that would explain to me the process so I can better understand it.


Nov 5, 2009, 10:42 am

Technically you stand up to catch the Speaker's eye, to indicate that you want to say something. In a normal debate the current person speaking will then usually give way so as you can ask your question (you usually thank your opponent for giving way first). However PMQs is incredibly stage-managed. There is a ballot in order to get your question asked (usually there are more questions than time) and the questioners are chosen at random beforehand. So the Speaker (and the MPs) knows exactly who is next to ask a question however the protocol is that the MPs who still want to ask a question will rise even though they know they will have to wait their turn.

Nov 5, 2009, 11:10 am

Thanks A Lot for clearing this up for me andyl. Now that I know there is a specific reason and an order that they go through in order to get their questions asked I understand it better.


Nov 5, 2009, 11:10 am

Thanks A Lot for clearing this up for me andyl. Now that I know there is a specific reason and an order that they go through in order to get their questions asked I understand it better.


Editado: Jun 29, 2010, 9:12 am

I was in fair London last week during your budget fuss and watched a parade of protesters and other interested parties streaming around Parliament. I didn't know what was up until while at the Churchill war rooms and museum I noticed a little note saying that Gladstone's budget box had been removed from display for the budget issue and that they would bring it back at the end of the month. The next day that little, battered red box appeared on the front page of the paper in the hands of the gentleman whom I assume is the Finance Minister. It seems that you have many of the same issues that we have on this side of the pond.

Jun 29, 2010, 9:50 am

I think that the choice to use Gladstone's box was just the usual ceremony. According to a report George Osborne "made it clear that he was unwilling to be the first Conservative chancellor in 150 years not to carry the Gladstone box". Part of the ceremony of budget day is the Chancellor standing outside number 11 Downing Street and displaying the box to the waiting press. There have only been two Chancellors who haven't used the Gladstone box. In future he will be using a new box as the National Archive says the original is getting too beat up to use.

BTW the Finance Minister is called The Chancellor Of The Exchequer.