London: Britain’s members of Parliament will return to the House of Commons on Monday at the end of their summer recess and have been issued a warning note by the Speaker to dress appropriately in “business attire”.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Commons Speaker, has updated the “Rules of behaviour and courtesies in the House of Commons” to address any laxity that may have set in during the Covid-19 lockdown when rules were relaxed to allow MPs to be able to connect virtually with the chamber.
The new upgraded Commons guidance states that MPs must remember how they dress, “should demonstrate respect for your constituents, for the House and for the institution of Parliament in the life of the nation”.
“Members are expected to wear business attire in and around the Chamber,” read the new rules.
“Jeans, chinos, sportswear or any other casual trousers are not appropriate. T-shirts and sleeveless tops are not business attire. Smart/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,” it notes.
“It is a privilege to serve as a Member of Parliament and your dress, language and conduct should reflect this,” it adds.
The new rules represent a toughening of the advice from Hoyle’s predecessor John Bercow, who was known for a more relaxed approach and believed there was “no exact dress code” for MPs.
It follows a few instances where Hoyle has intervened to point out an MP’s choice of attire, including former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt being told he was not dressed smartly enough during a Commons debate on Covid-19 back in December 2020.
Hoyle has also moved to clamp down on rowdiness in the Commons and the new rules state that “singing and chanting are not permitted in the chamber” and that “clapping is also not allowed as it eats into the time available for debate”.
MPs have also been told to pay attention: “When listening to a debate you should not read books or newspapers or obviously devote yourself to your phone or other electronic device.”