Glossary of Parliamentary Terms
Updated and revised: 31 January 2009
One of the most overwhelming difficulties of starting a job in parliament can be coming to terms with the language, which quite often might as well be Swahili for a newcomer.
In an attempt to help the public connect with parliament, the Modernisation Committee has made some changes to the language used around the place. For example, 'I spy strangers' (formerly used to request that the House sit in private, 'strangers' being members of the public, was abolished in 1998 and replaced with the rather less romantic request that the 'House sit in private'). While there may be a certain smugness which emanates from being able to understand such obscurities, many feel that the use of such language further turns off an already disengaged public. Others argue it creates a sense of occasion and tradition and helps maintain dignified discussion.
The Parliament UK external website includes a glossary of terms at
let them know if you think of any they've missed out!
Parliament's Education Service works with schools to support young people's understanding of Parliament and democracy; they are here: www.parliament.uk/education/online-resources/parliament-explained.htm.