More pride and grace welcome writes Roy Edmonds

Speaker and Lancashire MP Sir Lindsay Hoyle (pictured) told the Commons it must smarten up in both appearance and behaviour. He instructed MPs returning from summer recess, “The way you dress should demonstrate respect for constituents, for the House and the institution of Parliament in the life of the nation.”

Thursday, 16th September 2021, 3:45 pm
Lindsay Hoyle

The Chorley champion’s guidance was, “Jeans, chinos, sportswear or other casual trousers are not appropriate. T-shirts and sleeveless tops are not business attire. Smart or business shoes are expected to be worn, casual shoes and trainers are not appropriate. Men are encouraged to wear a tie and jackets must be worn.”

He went on, “It’s a privilege to serve as a Member of Parliament and your dress, language and conduct should reflect this.” Sir Lindsay intends to clamp down on rowdiness in the Commons, now back to normal after virtual debates during Covid. Members were also told to pay attention during debate and not read books, newspapers or look at their phones.

When I attended the Commons and Parliament’s Lobby Bar for correspondents 40 years ago, with this newspaper group, rather than dress and manners it was the drinking and lack of security which amazed me. Police on duty at gateways were clearly used to seeing drunkenness even in late afternoon.

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By contrast, when working in Australia, I rather liked the easy-going procedure of Parliament there at Canberra. Then Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, even wore an old, red cardigan with a hole in its elbow.

But, of course, that was just our colonies!

Looking around, however, perhaps Sir Lindsay is right and we’ve loosened the trappings of Empire and Majesty too much.

More pride and grace in how we all appear and behave might be very welcome – even if our PM can’t control his hair!

* Roy’s books are published by Publishing, sponsored by the British Arts Council. Also available on Kindle from Amazon and at Waterstones.

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