The House is now back from the Easter recess and busy debating. Peers have a reputation for being extremely polite to one another. Even insults are couched in language that sometimes means it is a few minutes before victims realise they have been criticised.
Given that we sometimes hide what we really mean in decorous language, I thought it may be helpful to identify phrases that are variously employed and, in parenthesis, explain what is really meant. Here are some of the most utilised phrases and what they mean:
‘With all due respect….’ (That was rubbish)
‘If the noble Lord will forgive me, I will not follow him in the line that he has taken…’ (That was nothing to do with what we are talking about)
‘The noble Lord, for whom I have the greatest respect…’ (You’ve lost it this time)
‘The noble Lord makes an interesting point…’ (I have no idea what the answer is)
‘I hear what the noble Lord says….’ (I take a different view)
‘The noble Lord, who is an experienced member of the House….’ (You’ve forgotten the correct procedure)
‘I would remind the noble Lord that this is a time-limited debate’ (Shut up)
‘If the noble Lord will allow me…..’ (Sit down)
‘My Lords’, if repeated several times within the course of a few sentences (Help!)
Readers may possibly find this helpful when listening to debates. There is one minister in particular who has a tendency to resort to ‘The noble Lord makes an interesting point’ and another senior member of the House who is prone to scatter his sentences with ‘My Lords’. I’m sure there are phrases I have overlooked, but no doubt readers – or colleagues! – will be able to identify others.