House of Commons Emblem

– in the House of Commons at 3:30 pm on 27th April 1994.

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Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Speaker of the House of Commons 3:30 pm, 27th April 1994

I undertook, in response to a point of order yesterday, to make a statement on the rules relating to the use of the House emblem for party political purposes. Those rules are clearly set out in the "Members Handbook" and in a separate leaflet published by the Serjeant at Arms. They make it clear that the designs and symbols of the House should not be used for purposes to which such authentication is inappropriate or where there is a risk that their use might wrongly be regarded as having the authority of the House.

In particular, neither the crowned portcullis nor the royal arms, whether or not associated with the words "House of Commons", may be used in connection with…supporting the return of any person to public office. The application of those rules rests on the good sense of individual Members. Where they have any doubt about their application, Members should consult the Serjeant at Arms.

Photo of Jane Kennedy Jane Kennedy , Liverpool Broadgreen

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I have listened carefully to your statement, and I have received the letter that you sent to me. I am grateful for your response and for your defence of the rights and privileges associated with being a Member of this House.

However, can you confirm that, in 1986, the then leader of the Liberal party gave the same explanation for an exactly similar breach of the rules in an election campaign, and was reprimanded in the same way? I ask for your guidance as to whether that conduct could be construed as a deliberate and calculated campaign to distort the rules of this House, and whether it is a contempt.

Photo of Peter Kilfoyle Peter Kilfoyle , Liverpool, Walton

Further to my point of order yesterday, Madam Speaker. Can you confirm that, having received the letter in which you asked me for evidence that the breach of the rules was on-going, I have given you today the names and addresses of constituents in Liverpool who have received the same letter with the same letterhead since the undertaking given to you?

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Speaker of the House of Commons

I received the later undertaking some time around lunchtime—at about the same time as the hon. Gentleman sent me a letter. I believe that the dates in his letter are not clear, but I have not yet had an opportunity to examine his correspondence.

Several hon. Members:

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Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Speaker of the House of Commons

Just a moment.

I think that I have made a very clear statement today. If any Members have any criticism of another Member of this House, the usual procedure is to refer the matter to an appropriate Committee or to table a substantive motion about the Member's behaviour. That is the way in which we have always proceeded. If the two hon. Members who represent Liverpool are not satisfied, that is the way in which they must proceed.

Several hon. Members:

rose

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Speaker of the House of Commons

As far as the Chair is concerned, that is the end of the matter. If there is another point of order, I am willing to hear it, but that matter is closed.

Photo of Simon Burns Simon Burns , Chelmsford

On a point of order, Madam Speaker.

Photo of Simon Burns Simon Burns , Chelmsford

It is a general point and is not specifically to do with the point—

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Speaker of the House of Commons

It had better be a different point of order, because I have just made a statement to the House and the hon. Gentleman is not entitled to raise that matter again. Is he going to rethink? I shall ask him to resume his seat if he is raising that same point of order again.

Photo of Simon Burns Simon Burns , Chelmsford

As it is a general point of order, I will try not to test your patience, Madam Speaker. If it is perceived that an hon. Member has, unintentionally or otherwise, made a mistake according to the rules of the House, is it customary for that hon. Member then to apologise to the House for the mistake that has been made?

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Speaker of the House of Commons

That is a rather hypothetical question. I hope that most hon. Members would have sufficient good manners to do that, but I am afraid that during my Speakership they have not always done so.

Photo of Mr Andrew Faulds Mr Andrew Faulds , Warley East

Further to that point of order, Madam Speaker. There is, with your permission, another way to proceed about this matter.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Speaker of the House of Commons

I hope that my authority is not being challenged by the hon. Gentleman.

Photo of Mr Andrew Faulds Mr Andrew Faulds , Warley East

I am trying to back it up, Madam Speaker.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Speaker of the House of Commons

That makes a change. I will hear the hon. Gentleman.

Photo of Mr Andrew Faulds Mr Andrew Faulds , Warley East

Madam Speaker, as you know, I have been a long-time supporter, colleague and admirer—I love you dearly. But I do have a simple resolution to the problem. There has been persistent misuse of this emblem over my many years in the House. There is one way that it could be satisfactorily resolved. The House of Commons emblem should be branded on the left or right haunch of hon. Members, depending on their party affiliation, when they have offended.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Speaker of the House of Commons

As usual, that is a frivolous remark from the hon. Gentleman.

Photo of Robert Wareing Robert Wareing , Liverpool, West Derby

Further to that point of order, Madam Speaker. I have taken into account what you have said, but I would like you to clarify one point. If, before the local elections, I sent a letter on House of Commons paper to the constituents of another hon. Member with the intention of ensuring the election of, say, a Labour candidate over a Liberal Democrat candidate, would I be in order?

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Speaker of the House of Commons

Perhaps I should repeat the words so that they are very clear. In particular, neither the crowned portcullis nor the royal arms, whether or not associated with … the words "House of Commons", may be used in connection with … supporting the return of any person to public office.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner , Bolsover

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. On this historic day in South Africa, would it not be a good idea to get hold of one of those pieces of paper with the House of Commons crest and send congratulations to Nelson Mandela on behalf of those of us who supported him in his long campaign to end apartheid and to get the vote? You would be doing a wonderful job if you sent it on behalf of those who wish to send such a letter. I will find you such a piece of paper if you do not have any—or I will borrow it from the hon. Gentleman.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Speaker of the House of Commons

As a matter of fact, I do not think I have that sort of notepaper; I have only my own notepaper, which carries the Speaker's emblem.

Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant , Staffordshire Mid

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Given the point that you have already made about the politicisation of the portcullis and crown, do you not believe that there could be a saving to the House—and indeed a depoliticisation—if we just stuck to using paper with a green emblem instead of having blue and red also?

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Speaker of the House of Commons

The hon. Gentleman is taking me to pastures new, about which I shall make no comment at this time.