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In UK parliamentary debates, an MP from the Government or Opposition gives a speech on the topic (e.g. see here). Yet, frequently, the person speaking "gives way" to another MP (called "right honorable lady/gentleman") of his/her choice, so that this MP intervenes, sometimes asking a further question to the member speaking. After watching this process several times, it is unclear to me:

  • how requests to give way are put forward
  • to whom the member speaking decides to give way

All I can find on this "giving way" business is here, but it does not address the issues above. Any ideas?

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From the House of Commons' "Rules of behaviour and courtesies in the House" (December 2015),

You may intervene briefly in someone else’s speech, but only if the Member who has the floor gives way. If the Member makes clear that they are not giving way, you should resume your seat. An intervention should relate directly to what has just been said and not be a short speech of its own.

This (and a look at House of Commons' footage) implies that a Member would stand in order to signal that they wish to speak. Hansard (the transcript of debates) also records this by listing, for example "rose—" and, as origimbo notes, on occasion this will be accompanied by a verbal request, e.g. "Will the hon. Gentleman give way?". Examples of both of these can be found in Hansard.

In any case, it is entirely at the discretion of the Member speaking whether or not they give way (or, as the former Shadow Chancellor put it): "To give way or not to give way, that is the question."

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