Manner of speaking

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25.60Members of the Lords must speak standing and uncovered,1 except by permission of the House.2 However, Members who are disabled may sit, and women Members may wear a hat, without seeking permission.3 Members of the Lords address speeches to the House in general and not to any individual (Standing Order No 26).

The House has resolved that the reading of speeches is ‘alien to the custom of this House, and injurious to the traditional conduct of its debates’.4 It is recognised, however, that in certain circumstances, such as when a ministerial statement is being made, it is necessary for a Member of the Lords to read from a prepared text. In practice, speakers often have recourse to ‘extended notes’, but it is considered contrary to the interests of good debate that they should follow them too closely.5 Exhibits should not be taken into the Chamber or produced in debate, whether to illustrate a speech or for any other purpose. Languages other than English should not be used in debate, except where necessary.6


  1. 1. SO No 25.
  2. 2. See the case of Lord Wynford, LJ (1831–32) 167.
  3. 3. LJ (1965–66) 59.
  4. 4. LJ (1935–36) 241.
  5. 5. LJ (1969–70) 212; ibid (1992–93) 957, 959.
  6. 6. HL Deb (1988–89) 510, cc 789–92.