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I heard John Bercow, the current former Speaker of the British House of Commons, often talk to "the Honourable and Right Honourable Members of Parliament".

Can somebody please explain to me the difference between these two terms? Is it a kind of "special honour" to be called "Right Honourable" and can any Member of Parliament become a "Right Honourable Member"?

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Within the House of Commons, the title "Right Honourable" indicates that the MP is a member of the Privy Council. (In other contexts, it is also used for some peers and Lord Mayors).

MPs who are not Privy Counsellors are always referred to as "the Honourable member for X" or similar within the Commons chamber, but "Honourable" is not part of their name. On the other hand, Privy Counsellors can always use Right Honourable as part of their name.

Anyone needing to know all about the Privy Council, its history etc will find the Council's website a good place to start.

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  • 2
    You say Privy Council and I picture a bunch of members deciding who can use it... – CGCampbell Sep 10 '19 at 17:27
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    @CGCampbell You are not the first to have made that association. – WS2 Jun 23 at 13:24

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