De-honouring Honourables

De-honouring Honourables
The Times reports that the newly installed Speaker of the House of Commons, the 46 year old Conservative, John Bercow, is “poised to scrap the age-old practice of addressing MPs by the title ‘the honourable member’, (instead) MPs will be referred to by their first name and surname.”
The article also reports that the new Speaker “has already come under fire for deciding to abandon the traditional Speaker’s uniform in favour of a lounge suit and academic gown.”
Federal Parliament has thankfully done away with wigs and gowns for the Speaker in the House of Representatives and the President in the Senate.  But the title of Honourable is still widely used.
At federal level, an MP normally has to have been a Minister or Parliamentary Secretary to get the formal title of “The Honourable”, although my understanding is that at least some state Parliaments bestow it on every MP.  Either way, I think the pomposity of such titles is just asking for the standard jibes about politicians generally being seen as a dishonourable group of people.
Still, while I think it would be good to use such pompous sounding titles far less often, it is just a matter of labelling.
I’m much more interested in a far more worthwhile reform which is reportedly also being considered in Britain, namely “banning ministers from making statements to the House if their plans had already been leaked to the media.”
Once upon a time, government Ministers recognised the importance of announcing major statements in the Parliament first.  But over the last decade of more, it has become exceedingly rare for this to occur, with many Ministerial Statements being released via a press conference or arranging a pre-emptive media story, with the Statement being tabled later in the Parliament almost as an afterthought.
I know talking about maintaining proper recognition of the role of Parliament is about as old fashioned as the Speaker wearing a wig and gown, but it is unfortunate that the more meaningful and important purposes of Parliament are consistently being degraded, even when a façade often remains.  Who knows, perhaps even Question Time once served a genuine purpose as a mechanism to obtain information and scrutinise the government.
(story found via www.breakfastpolitics.com)

The Times reports that the newly installed Speaker of the House of Commons, the 46 year old Conservative, John Bercow, is “poised to scrap the age-old practice of addressing MPs by the title ‘the honourable member’, (instead) MPs will be referred to by their first name and surname.”

The article also reports that the new Speaker “has already come under fire for deciding to abandon the traditional Speaker’s uniform in favour of a lounge suit and academic gown.

Federal Parliament has thankfully done away with wigs and gowns for the Speaker in the House of Representatives and the President in the Senate.  But the title of Honourable is still widely used.

At federal level, an MP normally has to have been a Minister or Parliamentary Secretary to get the formal title of “The Honourable”, although my understanding is that at least some state Parliaments bestow it on every MP.  Either way, I think the pomposity of such titles is just asking for the standard jibes about politicians generally being seen as a dishonourable group of people.

Still, while I think it would be good to use such pompous sounding titles far less often, it is just a matter of labelling.

I’m much more interested in a far more worthwhile reform which is reportedly also being considered in Britain, namely “banning ministers from making statements to the House if their plans had already been leaked to the media.

Once upon a time, government Ministers recognised the importance of announcing major statements in the Parliament first.  But over the last decade of more, it has become exceedingly rare for this to occur, with many Ministerial Statements being released via a press conference or arranging a pre-emptive media story, with the Statement being tabled later in the Parliament almost as an afterthought.

I know talking about maintaining proper recognition of the role of Parliament is about as old fashioned as the Speaker wearing a wig and gown, but it is unfortunate that the more meaningful and important purposes of Parliament are consistently being degraded, even when a façade often remains.  Who knows, perhaps even Question Time once served a genuine purpose as a mechanism to obtain information and scrutinise the government.

(story found via www.breakfastpolitics.com)

Please like & share:

6 Comments

  1. Well, I would certainly agree with a change from addressing politicians as the Member for Whatever Seat, although it does give us some idea of where they are from (e.g. the bush or city).

    It must be hard to remember what the name of their seat is sometimes, and at least the public will more easily know who they are, especially if they are being continually chastised for interrupting.

    The media are incredible nosey parkers. The opportunities for leaks (deliberate or accidental) must be huge, so I don’t think I would agree that Ministers could not then make statements to the house based on that information.

    After a media leak, the general public might be more likely to tune in, although I suppose it also has certain political advantages for the leaker. He can either get up and push his agenda, or shut his mouth and pretend it was the opposition’s idea, depending on public reaction.

  2. Andrew Bartlett says it ll,without relating the endless stories ,factually based that prove to the average Britain,[even if they dislike that word as well],that many many of their representatives,are but the worst of oppurtunists,that have completely sullied the matter of formal processes of big D Democracy. What they have now in Dear Old Britain,even with Rupert Murdoch owing the means of the production of “honest” journalism ,is an exercise in understanding the formulae of what to assess as input to Democratic Processes to what will eventuate as output and legislated as such.Garbage in garbage out,somehow has the regulation of that being the process of both,that is, bloody rubbish, being rubbished defending rubbish and consequently being rubbish.The formulae then is how does the mug voter,determine their being… given only rubbish!? England has no American Indians to have trinkets given away to provide territorial integrity,but common law and Statute Law exist,and often can be nimbly used by the mug voter.In Australia less lucky,we have default Statute Law and our common law derived from English traditions mainly,is but Portugese spoken backwards rapidly.Its an affront to the dignity of the court to want to represent oneself!?And we are not Represented in Parliament,we are told we are by the Electoral Commission with a great deal of arrogance,on its part.

  3. Indeed – hopefully the new Speaker’s reforms will stretch substantially beyond this change in labeling. Can’t say I am too optimistic.

  4. Phil:

    “It’s an affront to the dignity of the court to want to represent oneself!?”

    Lawyers want to grab money. Judges and governments control what is allowed to be said or brought forward in court.

    I know a woman who very successfully presented her own case in a court, and won quite a lot of money in damages.

    Yes, the parliament certainly represents the interests of somebody/ies – very often it is not the constituents.

  5. How many citizens know the name of their own electorate? I’m pretty sure many of them do however I’m also pretty sure that an awful lot have next to no idea. Personally I could not tell you the name of my state electorate without looking it up somewhere. However I can readily recall the name of my local MPs for both state and federal parliament.

Comments are closed.