What do you call a nobleman in the Commons?

Andy McSmith

More sixty years have passed since Tony Benn established the principle that a hereditary peer can be elected to the House of Commons, and it is nearly 12 since the 3rd Viscount Thurso and 6th Baronet of Ulbster, was elected Liberal Democrat MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, and still the other MPs have not agreed on the correct way to address him. MPs normally address each other as  ‘the Honourable Member’ or ‘my Honourable Friend’ but on Tuesday, however, that priceless Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg insisted on addressing Thurso as ‘my noble friend’.

Another Tory, Jesse Norman, used the same honorific. As it happens, both those Tory MPs went to the same school as John Thurso –  Eton, naturally. This has provoked a protest to the Speaker from George Galloway, who claimed that no one can be ‘noble’ in the House of Commons. John Bercow has ruled that in fact you can, though whether someone is addressed as ‘noble’ is, he added, a matter of taste.

  • creggancowboy

    Thurso is Sinclair surely?

  • David Boothroyd

    Galloway is wrong. If a member of the House of Commons has a title of nobility, then it is not incorrect to refer to them as ‘the noble Lord the member for’, although since 1998 it has not been compulsory.

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