Peter Bone breaks House of Commons rules... by wearing a daft hat

Written by David Singleton on 15 December 2016 in Diary

He might have got away with it in the late nineteenth century.

A Conservative MP has been censured by the House of Commons speaker for brazenly flouting Parliamentary rules. By wearing a silly hat.

Peter Bone donned the dodgy headgear in a bid to promote his local charity, ‘Crazy Hats’, which raises money for Northamptonshire breast cancer care services. But the stunt did not wash with speaker John Bercow who declared:

“I’ve indulged the honourable gentleman for the length of his question, but I’m glad that he’s now taken that hat off and I sincerely hope he won’t put it on again – preferably at any time but certainly not in the chamber.”

Leader of the House David Lidington was similarly unkind about the hat:

“I thought for a moment my Honourable Friend was auditioning for a role in the remake of the film Elf.”



The ban on hats in the HOC was passed in 1988, with then leader of the House Ann Taylor stating: “I know some members may feel that they look particularly fetching in the opera hat, but it really does make the House of Commons look ridiculous”.

In previous centuries, a top hat was part of many MPs's daily attire. They could be worn in the chamber, but not upon entering or leaving, nor when addressing MPs. However the wearing of tall hats was challenged by Keir Hardie, who always wore a soft cap.

A parliamentary guide to the traditions and customs of the House states:

“In the late nineteenth century,  the tall hat was de rigeur. It also served as a place reservation in the Chamber for its owner, the  thinking being that the wearer could not leave the Palace without it, and would therefore soon return.

“This system was defeated by some Members bringing two silk hats into the Palace (one Irish Member, it is said, once arrived with a cab full of hats) and so the present device of "prayer cards" was adopted.”


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