Language, Address and Seating Arrangements (Commons)

An official report of proceedings – known as Hansard – is published on the morning following the end of proceedings. MPs must deliver their speeches in English, although by historical anomaly they may still use Norman French. Language must be deemed 'Parliamentary' by the chair.

MPs must not refer to each other by name in the chamber. Instead, all MPs refer to each other by 'Honourable Member' and by constituency. It is said that this form of address is supposed to defuse anger and lend some decorum to proceedings. Similarly, the second person can only be used to refer to the chair. Traditionally, the House of Lords is known as 'another place' or 'the other place'.

While 'Honourable Member' is normally sufficient, it is a frequently used convention to refer to a privy counsellor as a 'Right Honourable Member.' Less employed are 'Honourable and Gallant' for a former member of the armed forces and 'Honourable and Learned' for a QC.

Looking from the Speaker's chair, the chamber is arranged as two sets of tiered benches, each split by a gangway, facing each other across an aisle. MPs of the governing party sit on the right of the Speaker, with Ministers occupying the 'Treasury bench' – the front-bench before the gangway. Opposition parties sit to the left of the Speaker with the Official Opposition seated closest to the chair. There are not enough seats for all MPs, so further 'cross-seating' is also used, as are the gangways on occasion.