For anyone following the UK political developments in recent months, the role of the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, might have received special attention. His calls for "order, order" are particularly well-known.

The question is simple. Is this call for MPs attention the (only) official way to do so? Or is it merely a custom which depends on the style of the speaker? For instance, could he instead use words like "attention", or "silence", or etc?

I've watch several videos of previous speakers and they all use the same expression, "order". Some examples here, here, here, and here.

  • Even in the link you give, he says words that are not "order" so it seems fairly clear he is not limited to those particular syllables. Commented Mar 13, 2019 at 22:00
  • @BryanKrause To call the attention of MPs for the first time? Can you point to the video and time, please?
    – luchonacho
    Commented Mar 13, 2019 at 22:18
  • Luchonacho - why "notorious"? Commented Mar 15, 2019 at 19:38
  • @MichaelHarvey youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=EY7EIZl4raY (from here)
    – luchonacho
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 16:27
  • 1
    @MichaelHarvey Mmm, no idea the word had a particularly negative connotation. OED suggests that's typically the case. I was tricked by the Spanish equivalent, which doesn't have such negative connotation. Updated.
    – luchonacho
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 18:20

1 Answer 1


The speaker is calling for order as opposed to disorder. The phrase is, so far as I know, a traditional one.

The role is broader than that though.

The Speaker is perhaps best known as the person who keeps order and calls MPs to speak during Commons debates. The Speaker calls MPs in turn to give their opinion on an issue. MPs signal that they want to speak by standing up from their seat (a custom known as 'catching the Speaker's eye') or they can notify the Speaker in advance by writing.

The Speaker has full authority to make sure MPs follow the rules of the House during debates. This can include:

  • directing an MP to withdraw remarks if, for example, they use abusive language
  • suspending the sitting of the House due to serious disorder
  • suspending MPs who are deliberately disobedient - known as naming
  • asking MPs to be quiet so Members can be heard

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