Oh dear…

Some people have difficulty recognising that Parliament and the House of Commons are not synonymous terms.   Unfortunately, this extends at times to the media.  The Evening Standard last night reported ‘Parliament is due to rise tomorrow… but Mr Cameron said today that Parliament could meet on Wednesday to discuss further developments’.  Er, no.  The House of Commons was due to rise today.  The House of Lords was not.   Anyone familiar with the parliamentary calendar would know that the Commons was scheduled to rise on 19 July and the House of Lords on 20 July.   The only question at our end has not been whether we sit on Wednesday but, given the delays in getting through legislation last week, whether we would need to extend the sitting to Thursday.

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About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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5 Responses to Oh dear…

  1. tory boy says:

    I agree it annoys me to. However you think of the names parliament has, The Palace of Westminster, Houses of Parliament, Parliament etc. No wonder people use the wrong term but it is misleading.

  2. Princeps Senatus says:

    I agree with the observation. However, it is true for most people that the House of Commons is Parliament, even though there are two other constituent parts (The House of Lords and the Sovereign).
    They also can not distinguish between Parliament/the Commons and the Government, as most ministers are MPs and speak regularly in the Commons. It is tasking to explain to the man on the clapham Omnibus that “they” (by which I mean the Commons/Parliament & the Government) are not the same people.
    However, the judiciary does not have that problem, perhaps because of their distinctive dress. Perhaps the Commons needs to adopt a formal dress, like the Lords and the judiciary.

    • Lord Norton says:

      Princeps Senatus: To judge by the media coverage – print and broadcast – of the House of Lords, you would be forgiven for thinking that peers have distinctive dress! Until the Supreme Court was created, incidentally, the law lords did not have distinctive dress. At State Opening, they wore peers’ robes, the same as other members. Only judges of the Appeal Court and High Court attended in judicial robes.

      I agree with your general observation. People have difficulty distinguishing Parliament from Government and as far as I can see the standing of Parliamemnt tends to go up and down with the popularity of Government.

  3. Dean B says:

    Part of the problem may be the term “Member of Parliament”, as opposed to “Member of the House of Commons”?

    • Lord Norton says:

      Dean B: Indeed. We have members in the Commons who are Members of Parliament and members of the Lords who are members of Parliament. The distinction can get lost on people.

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