Traditions and customs of the House: House of Commons Background Paper - Commons Library Standard Note

Published 02 August 2013 | Standard notes SN06432

Amended 19 September 2013

Authors: Mark Sandford

Topic: Parliament, Parliamentary procedure

This note outlines a number of the lesser-known and more unusual customs, procedures and behaviours of the House of Commons. It covers aspects of debate in the Chamber of the House; aspects of protocol; and specific traditions.

The note looks at various aspects of behaviour in the House of Commons Chamber, including how Members speak in debate and how they are disciplined when they fail to follow procedures and courtesies; how Members must handle relations with one another in and outside the Chamber; matters of dress and attire, both for the Speaker and for other Members; sitting in private; and the use of the term ‘strangers’ to describe non-Members.

The note also contains a brief description of the use of the colour green and the symbol of the portcullis by the House of Commons; and the traditional use of the Outlawries Bill at the beginning of each Parliamentary session.

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