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Interesting facts about the British Parliament

  • The British Parliament is made up of two houses:

The House of Commons is where elected members of parliament sit, and The House of Lords is where really old guys who wet themselves sit.
 And they do have to sit, as they can’t stand. They’re really old. And smell of pee.
 Nope, that actually isn’t true anymore. It used to be true, though. The House of Lords really did stink of wee.
The Lords used to be all landed gentry and, as such, all had tweed jackets. These were treated “fixed” with urine to make them more durable and strong. Unfortunately, when it rained, it gave off an aroma of piddle.
Nowadays, there are chemicals that are used instead. Plus, the old gentry don’t tend to sit in the Lords anymore. Most of the chamber is full of appointed Lords instead.
  • The two chambers hate each:

In fact, they hate each other so much, neither the House of Commons nor the House of Lords, refer to each other by their names. It’s always “The Other Place.”
They don’t say, “Oh, did you guys hear what they got up to in the House of Commons the other day? They had a blooming bouncy castle.”Instead, they would say, “The Other Place degraded themselves a day before the last day of yesterday week by propelling themselves upwards by use of a method of jumping on an air inflated cushion. Oh, what fun, rather. Jolly good, old chap.”
  • There are no names used in the House of Commons:

    Nope, Members of Parliament don’t refer to each other by name when talking in parliament. “Hi, Dave, how’s it hanging?” is wrong.
    Not least, because he’s the Prime Minister, and you wouldn’t call the Prime Minister, Dave. And you certainly wouldn’t ask him how it is hanging. Obviously, it’s to the right, as he’s a conservative.
    Because there are no names used in Parliament, Call-Me-Dave is always referred to by his title, the Prime Minister.
    If he wasn’t Prime Minister, it still wouldn’t be Dave, or Call-Me-Dave, or Smug-Git. He would be the Honourable Member for “Insert whatever constituency he represents”, which, I believe is Whitney, Oxfordshire. Yep, I had to look that up.

  • Everyone in the House of Commons is honourable:

    Yeah, who really believes that? It may not be true that all Members of Parliament are honourable, but they have to refer to each other as “Honourable” regardless. This tradition dates back at least 150 years, but may go back further than that.
    The reason “Honourable” is used, is to maintain the dignity of the House of Commons and its members. Yeah, dignity seems a little strange to anyone who has watched a session of Parliament. But, well, that’s the reason.

    It is also to ensure any criticisms or comments seem less direct and hurtful.
    So, instead of saying, “Dave, you’re wrong, you little toadface git,” which is direct and hurtful, you would say, “May I suggest, the Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Member for Whitney, has a striking resemblance in his facial structure to that of a small jumping creature. What-a-git.”

  • Strangers in the night:

    Until 1845 the general public wasn’t allowed into the House of Commons. After that date, the public were allowed into certain areas, but if caught outside those areas, or misbehaving, then you could have your head chopped off by Royal Decree. If it was a really bad offence, then you’d be taken into a specially constructed soundproof room and made to listen to One Direction songs all day.

Up until the Modernisation Committee did away with it in 2004, the general public were always referred to as “The Strangers”.
You could view the debates from the Strangers Gallery, now renamed the Public Gallery, or have a bite to eat at the Strangers Cafeteria, now known as the Terrace Cafeteria. The Strangers Dining room and Strangers Bar haven’t changed their names yet.

Although the general public can watch the debates, if a member of parliament shouts, “I Spy Strangers,” then the public is removed, the recording devices and television cameras are shut off, and the house then “sits” in private. This usually means they have a bouncy castle and want some privacy to elevate themselves repeatedly into the air by way of a giant air filled cushion.

The last time Strangers were Spied, and the house sat in private without witness, was in 2001 when the chamber debated the Anti-Terrorism, Crime, and Security Bill. There are stranger tides, though. But that will wait until part two.

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