MPs cannot ‘personally criticse’ the Royal Family says Speaker

June 17, 2009 at 7:55 pm Leave a comment


Members of Parliament should not express “personal criticism” of members of the Royal Family, the Speaker has said.

He was responding to a point of order from Lib Dem MP Evan Harris, who asked for guidance on “how we deal with matters relating to the opinions, publicly or privately expressed, of the heir to the throne.”

He made reference to the parliamentary rule book, Erskine May, which prevents MPs from assuming that members of the royal family have a private opinion.

“The rule that prevents us from debating such matters is, apparently, not strictly applied in cases where a member of the Royal Family “has made a public statement on a matter of current interest so long as comment is made in appropriate terms.”

“When a private statement is made that seeks to lobby either the Executive or a third party, it is not clear what we can do as Members of Parliament to engage with the issue, even when it is current in the media—on the airwaves and in the papers—or what we can do when we are asked by constituents to comment on the issue or to raise it in Parliament.

“What advice can you give Members of Parliament who wish to ensure that there is full transparency on matters of public policy or private matters affecting citizens or subjects of this country?

“Is this the only place where the opinions of the Prince of Wales, for example, cannot be debated?”

The Speaker confirmed that is the practice of the House that “the personal conduct of a member of the Royal Family cannot be discussed except in debate on a substantive motion drawn up for that purpose.”

“When any member of the Royal Family engages in public debate, it is of course in order for any views expressed to be discussed, provided that that does not extend to personal criticism. I hope that that helps the hon. Gentleman.”


Entry filed under: Commons, Procedure. Tags: , , , , , .

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