By Matthew Barrett
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I don't seek to trivialise the debate, or the subject of debate that Parliament was recalled for today.
However, as well as the content of today's debate, there was an important procedural/sartorial development.
Rob Flello, the Labour Member for Stoke-on-Trent South, was allowed to speak in the Chamber without a jacket.
Flello's question to the Prime Minister was greeted with loud murmuring and disapproval, and when the PM replied, he said "I don't know if we need an inquiry into safety in the House, but the honourable gentleman seems to have had his jacket stolen". After replying to the point, Mr Speaker assured the House that Mr Flello's attire was in order.
This seems to be very much the opinion of Mr Speaker Bercow. Erskine May specifically says:
"The Speaker has also stated that it is the custom for gentlemen members to wear jackets and ties."
A Parliamentary factsheet from August 2010 also states (pdf):
The dress of Members these days is generally that which might ordinarily be worn for a fairly formal business transaction – the Speaker has, on a number of occasions, taken exception to informal clothing, including the non-wearing of jackets and ties by men.
We previously covered Daniel Hannan MEP's non-wearing of a tie in the European Parliament a couple of years ago, and a few Members of our Parliament have, over the last few years, been warned for not wearing a tie. On the most recent incident I could find mention of, the then-Deputy Speaker, Sir Alan Haselhurst, cautioned "It is not appropriate to address the House without being properly attired."
What do readers think of the prospect of jacket-less Members? Was it appropriate for Mr Bercow to say Flello was in order?