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The case for overturning Commons conventions

<span>‘The Conservatives and the SNP were more interested in using convention to present Labour with a Hobson’s choice rather than engaging with the substantive issue.’</span><span>Photograph: Parliament TV</span>
‘The Conservatives and the SNP were more interested in using convention to present Labour with a Hobson’s choice rather than engaging with the substantive issue.’Photograph: Parliament TV

There has been a lot of hot air following the ruling by Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the speaker of the House of Commons (Lindsay Hoyle fights back as Sunak criticises speaker’s ‘concerning’ choice, 22 February). Conservatives and the Scottish National party in particular should reflect that they may well benefit from any move away from the hitherto rigid approach towards amendments to motions. The speaker was right to stress the importance of allowing a range of views on difficult and important issues. I well remember in the debate over war in Iraq not wanting to vote for either the government’s motion or the only amendment that had been allowed, and preferring a third that had not been selected.
Joyce Quin
Labour, House of Lords

• “Everyone wanted a ceasefire. Only they wanted their own ceasefire, not anyone else’s ceasefire.” John Crace is spot-on in his parliamentary sketch (While people die in Gaza, the UK parliament goes to war over the ceasefire, 21 February). A day wasted and Westminster politics revealed for what it is. A tawdry farce whose outcome – even if “precedent” had been followed – would make no difference to the suffering in Gaza. And all this while we continue to send arms to Israel. Shameful.
Lyn A Dade
Twickenham, London

• Thank you to John Crace for summarising what I felt. His white-hot fury regarding the ridiculous shenanigans in parliament over the Gaza conflict was powerful writing that cut through to my soul.
Helen Beioley
France Lynch, Gloucestershire

• Clearly the Conservatives and the SNP were more interested in using convention to present Labour with a Hobson’s choice rather than engaging with the substantive issue. The speaker had reasons for moving away from convention. He should have stuck to his guns rather than apologise. He might also dump other conventions and allow polite clapping to signify approval as is the norm in civilised society, and insist on prime ministers answering the questions rather than rabbiting out unrelated set pieces.
Robert Dyson
Kenilworth, Warwickshire

• Should Russia invade Poland, I assume there will be a debate in the House of Commons. Let’s imagine that the Liberal Democrats use an opposition day motion to propose a policy of pacifism, and the Conservatives counter with a plan to nuke Moscow. It would be absurd if other policies were not then considered. The conventions of the House of Commons are as outdated as Jacob Rees-Mogg’s double-breasted suit.
Mark Gooding
London

• Your report (Commons speaker apologises after Gaza ceasefire debate descends into chaos, 21 February) reminded me that I’ve been thinking of setting my next novel in an undistinguished country in which, in the course of a single day, the machinations of just one essentially powerless individual disrupt its governance so comprehensively that it is in effect without leadership while, simultaneously, its nuclear defence capabilities prove themselves to be inoperative. Do you think the idea stretches credulity too far?
Bill Kirton
Aberdeen

• As a socialist, I always think people can change for the better, so I agree that while Lindsay Hoyle made a mistake in taking a decision that prevented an SNP motion calling for an immediate unconditional ceasefire in Gaza to be debated and voted on, he can make amends by allowing this now to happen (Editorial, 22 February). What is less excusable is his effort to somehow link entirely peaceful protests for Palestine with a terrorist threat to MPs. There is no factual basis to that point and he needs to apologise for making it.
Keith Flett
Tottenham, London

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