UK Politics

Speaker John Bercow unamused by MP's 'crazy' hat

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Media captionPeter Bone breaks the rules for charity

Speaker John Bercow has told off a Conservative MP for wearing a "crazy" hat in the House of Commons.

Peter Bone put on the stripy, multicoloured woolly headgear, complete with tassels and ear flaps, to raise awareness of a breast cancer charity.

But Mr Bercow said he was "glad" when the MP for Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, removed it.

He told Mr Bone he should not wear it again, "preferably at any time, but certainly not in the chamber".

More than a century ago, hats were commonly worn in the Commons, but not when addressing the House, entering or leaving it. They also allowed members to reserve a seat for popular debates.

They tended to be top hats and of a less colourful type than Mr Bone's.

Image caption The Speaker was not complimentary about Peter Bone's knitwear

But the Conservative right-winger had an unlikely sartorial ally in former Labour leader Keir Hardie, who preferred a soft cap, and the radical Liberal Joseph Cowen, who complained that "the rigidity of the top hat subjected him to headache".

And, until 1998, any MP wishing to raise a point of order during a division was required to wear a top hat. Special collapsible versions were kept for this purpose.

Standing up in the Commons, Mr Bone, said: "Tomorrow is local charities day and we also have very good local charities in our constituencies and one of mine is Crazy Hats. It's run by Glennis Hooper and a group of dedicated volunteers. They've raised over £2m..."

He then paused as he bent over.

Placing the hat - perhaps intended as a South American-themed take on Santa's - on his head, be continued: "....by people wearing crazy hats and they've spent that money on breast cancer in Northamptonshire."

But Mr Bercow, who has refrained from the tradition of wearing a wig since becoming Speaker in 2009, was not best pleased, telling him: "I've indulged the honourable gentleman for the duration of his question, but I'm glad that he's now taken that hat off.

"And I sincerely hope that he won't put it on again, preferably at any time, but certainly not in the chamber."

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