Parliamentary Conventions by Jacqy Sharpe


Conventions play an important role in many aspects of the UK constitution. Covering the period up to the end of 2019, this paper considers the. operation of conventions within the UK Parliament. It concludes that, in recent years, many long-established conventions have been questioned and some indeed may no longer be “accepted and observed” by those to whom they are directed, or be able accurately to be described as conventions. The difficulty of defining a convention when there is an apparent disjunction between an accepted parliamentary convention and Standing Orders or the law has also been exposed. As this paper demonstrates, many conventions would benefit from being revisited and re-examined as to whether they are still accepted or whether they need to be replaced or modified by other formulations.

Jacqy Sharpe is a former Clerk in the House of Commons, whose period as Clerk of the Journals provided her with significant insight into the historical and contemporary context of parliamentary conventions and procedure.

This publication presents the personal views of the author and not those of The Constitution Society, which publishes it as a contribution to debate on this important subject.