17 Dec 2017

A noes by any other name

From The House, 7:35 am on 17 December 2017

The language of Parliament is sometimes archaic and often confusing. Last year when MPs were discussing possible changes to their rules one MP gave a speech calling for a simplification of the Parliamentary lexicon.

So we talked with him (Gareth Hughes from the Greens), and Parliament's arbiter of the rules, the Speaker (Trevor Mallard), about the jargon of Parliament. 

Attempt the dastardly quiz below, then listen to the programme to find some explanations (amongst the chat).  

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Green MP, Gareth Hughes speaking in the House on Parliamentary jargon. Photo: VNP / Phil Smith

Parliamentary Jargon: A Pop Quiz 

Is a Disallowable Instrument:

  1. 1. A guitar in a brass band?
  2. 2. A gun brought to a knife fight?
  3. 3. A delegated authority that can be revoked?
  4. 4. All of the above?

Does ‘Moving a Motion without Notice” refer to:

  1. 1. The sudden onset of diarrhea?
  2. 2. An underground rave?
  3. 3. Unexpected spasms?
  4. 4. Making a suggestion that's not on the agenda?
  5. 5. All of the above?

Are “Ayes and Noes”:

  1. 1. Above the moueth and chien?
  2. 2. Lyrics from a sea shanty about piratical physiognomy?
  3. 3. Votes for or against a question?
  4. 4. All of the above?
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A clue - a door for noes(es) Photo: VNP / Daniela Maoate-Cox

Is a subsidiary Instrument:

  1. 1. Second fiddle?
  2. 2. Delegated legislation?
  3. 3. Regulations?
  4. 4. All of the above?

If you take a call do you:

  1. 1. Answer a telephone?
  2. 2. Really, what else could it mean?
  3. 3. All of the above?

Does Order Papers refer to:

  1. 1. An Abecedarian hobby
  2. 2. The menu in a restaurant
  3. 3. The opposite of shuffle
  4. 4. A fancy to-do list
  5. 5. All of the above?

“The question is that the part stand part” means:

  1. 1. I have no idea.
  2. 2. That’s not even a question.
  3. 3. Now you’re just making up gibberish.
  4. 4. “Shall we leave this bit in?”
  5. 5. All of the above?

This glossary of terms from the Legislation website and this glossary of Parliamentary terms from Parliament might help.

How did you go? Mostly the answer is all of the above. And yes, those are all terms used in Parliament, where the language is often charmingly arcane, but can veer towards utterly confuzzling. Thankfully there are easy explanations and for the brave, very detailed manuals to help the public, MPs and Parliament's staff through the maze.