What are the terms and expressions banned in Parliament?

The SNP’s Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, has been dramatically thrown out of the House of Commons over an allegation against the Prime Minister during a debate on the Sue Gray report in Downing Street parties.

Blackford told MPs Boris Johnson “willfully misled” Parliament before being asked by Speaker Lindsay Hoyle to add the word “inadvertently”.

The SNP politician was then sensationally ordered to leave the room after saying: “It’s not my fault if the Prime Minister can’t be trusted to tell the truth.”

So what are the terms and phrases that are not allowed while MPs are going about their business in Parliament? Here you can find out what you should pay attention to in proceedings in the House of Commons.

Which terms and expressions are not allowed in Parliament?

According to the government’s website, any language that is considered “unparliamentary” is any term or phrase that is not polite.

If a member uses language that is considered “unparliamentary”, they will be asked by the speaker to withdraw it.

If the person fails to do so, repeats the comment or uses similar language, the speaker can use a standing order given to them – in the case of the House of Commons this is number 43 – to ask that member to leave the chamber.

Some of the terms and phrases that have been banned over the years include crook, coward, idiot, gutter, hooligan, rat, pig, stoolpigeon, and traitor.

The term pipsqueak, coined by former Labor MP Tom Watson during a School funding debate in 2010, is also not allowed.

Former veteran Labor MP Dennis Skinner has been thrown out of the House of Commons on a number of occasions for the language he has used over the years.

The guard reported that the former Left MP had called former Agriculture Secretary John Gummer a “little squirt of Minister” and a “wart,” for which he was kicked out.

And in 1995 he was sacked for accusing government ministers of selling off the coal industry in what he called a “crooked deal”.

As former Labor leader Ed Miliband accused the PM of being ‘shady’ in 2015he was not asked to retire.

But Labor MP Zarah Sultana used the same term in 2021 to describe two conservative politicians and was asked to change the remark to something more polite. Deputy spokeswoman Dame Eleanor Laing asked her, “Maybe she could put it another way.”

In addition to the general terms and expressions, MPs are also prohibited from calling other Members “liars” or using other terms to address them in this manner.

In today’s case of the SNP’s Ian Blackford, it is also clear that MPs cannot accuse ministers of misleading the House of Commons.

Leave a Comment