'No jeans and chinos': MPs told to smarten up for return to Commons

4 September 2021, 09:45

MPs have been told that jeans and chinos are not acceptable for the Commons
MPs have been told that jeans and chinos are not acceptable for the Commons. Picture: Alamy
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

MPs have been told to smarten up their attire by Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle as they return to the House of Commons next week.

With the days of Zooming in to Parliament now over, the Speaker has issued a reminder to the nation's politicians on how to dress and behave when stepping back into the Chamber.

Sir Lindsay has updated the "Rules of behaviour and courtesies in the House of Commons" to stop MPs falling into any unruly habits made normal by the pandemic - such as wearing jeans and chinos.

His advice marks a significant toughening-up of the rules and standards in Parliament when compared to former speaker John Bercow, whose tenure was more lenient.

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Stoke-on-Trent North MP Jonathan Gullis was skipped on the order paper for wearing a sweater on Zoom
Stoke-on-Trent North MP Jonathan Gullis was skipped on the order paper for wearing a sweater on Zoom. Picture: Alamy

The divisive ex-Speaker's rules said there was "no exact dress code" and that typical business clothing was merely a suggestion.

However, Sir Linsday's new guide says MPs should remember "the way in which you dress should demonstrate respect for your constituents, for the House and for the institution of Parliament in the life of the nation".

"Members are expected to wear business attire in and around the Chamber," it says.

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"Jeans, chinos, sportswear or any other casual trousers are not appropriate. T-shirts and sleeveless tops are not business attire.

"Smart/business shoes are expected to be worn. Casual shoes and trainers are not appropriate. Men are encouraged to wear a tie, and jackets must be worn.

"It is a privilege to serve as a Member of Parliament and your dress, language and conduct should reflect this."

Tracy Brabin MP was at the centre of a storm for wearing an off-the-shoulder black dress in the Commons
Tracy Brabin MP was at the centre of a storm for wearing an off-the-shoulder black dress in the Commons. Picture: Alamy

His instructions also represent a crackdown on pre-pandemic fashion, such as when MP Tracy Brabin found herself at the centre of a storm for wearing an off-the-shoulder black dress in the Chamber in February last year.

Meanwhile, singing will be banned in a bid to clamp down on rowdiness in the Commons.

It comes after Labour MPs protested Prime Minister Boris Johnson's proroguing of Parliament in September 2019 by singing songs, such as the Red Flag and Scots Wha Hae.

The new rules state that "singing and chanting are not permitted in the chamber" and that "clapping is also not allowed as it eats into the time available for debate".

MPs have also been told to pay attention "when listening to a debate - you should not read books or newspapers or obviously devote yourself to your phone or other electronic device".