Standing Orders are written rules under which Parliament conducts its business. They regulate the way Members behave, Bills are processed and debates are organised. Some Standing Orders are temporary and only last until the end of a session or a parliament. There are around 150 standing orders relating to parliamentary business and public Bills, and about 250 relating to private business.
Read the Standing Orders:
Custom and practice
Much of parliamentary procedure is not written into the Standing Orders but exist as the custom and practice of Parliament. Some stem from Speaker's rulings in the House of Commons chamber, other procedures are followed because that's the way things have been done in the past, so a precedent has been set. An example of a well known practice is of Bills being 'read' three times in both Houses, this is not in the Standing Orders.
Erskine May was the Clerk of the House of Commons between 1871 and 1886. He wrote a book called ‘Treatise on the Law, Privileges, Proceedings and Usage of Parliament’ This is now in its 24th edition. It is considered the authoritative source on Parliamentary procedure.
It provides details of observed 'rules' within the House, whether they relate to Standing Orders (and are therefore regulated by the House), traditional practice or whether they derive from "Speaker's Rulings". It is not available on the internet but will be in your local library.
Code of Conduct
The Code of Conduct provides guidance to MPs on the standards of conduct expected during the course of their parliamentary duties.
In the House of Commons Members refer to each other by their constituency name or official title, not by their given name. The call each other "the honerable Member for ...". Some MPs are called the "right honerable Member for..." this may be written like this: Rt Hon. This means that at some point they have been a member of the Privy Council. Members of the Cabinet and Leaders of the main opposition parties (among other senior figures in public life) are made members of the Privy Council and therefore become “Rt Hon”. The title stays with an individual for life, so past cabinet ministers retain the Rt Hon designation.
Naming of a Member
'Naming of a Member' is the term used to describe the disciplining of an MP for breaking the rules of the House of Commons. The term comes from the fact that during a debate in the House of Commons, MPs refer to each other only by the name of their constituencies or by their official position, not their actual names. The only time names are used are when the Speaker calls MPs to speak or disciplines them. If an MP disregards the authority of the Chair or persistently obstructs the House in its duties then he or she can be 'named'. The Speaker says "I name the Honourable Member for ..... Mr/s.., for disregarding the authority of the Chair." A first offence brings suspension for five days. The second offence in the same parliamentary sitting carries 20 days' suspension and a third offence a period the House itself decides. Should an MP refuse to withdraw and resist removal, then suspension for the rest of the session is the punishment.
Language in the House of Commons
Speeches must be made in English, but quotation in another language has been allowed.
The House resolved on 5 June 1996 that, 'whilst English is and should remain the language of this House, the use of Welsh be permitted in parliamentary proceedings held in Wales, subject to the conditions set out in the Third Report from the Select Committee on Procedure (HC 96, 1995-96).
In 2001 the House agreed to that Committee's further recommendation that witnesses before select committees at Westminster should be able to give evidence in Welsh (HC 47, 2000-01). The Welsh Affairs Committee took evidence in Welsh at Westminster for the first time on 9 April 2003 (HC 433-vi 2002-03).