Howridiculous asked if I would make ‘Wit of Westminster’ a regular item. The extent to which humour is brought into debates depends primarily of course on members. Some can be extremely witty, whereas a few take themselves so seriously that they would never dream of saying anything that may cause laughter.
There is one occasion each session when wit is expected to be to the fore. At the start of a new session, the House debates the Queen’s Speech and does so on a motion of thanks to the monarch. The motion is moved by a very senior back-bencher and then seconded by an up-and-coming one. The speeches are expected to be serious but also to have their light moments: they have something of the flavour of after-dinner speeches. There have been some very memorable speeches in recent years, including by Lord Alli, Baroness Turner and – more recently – Lord Hart.
Baroness Turner recalled the occasion when, much to her amazement, she was approached about the possibility of accepting a peerage. When she had got over the shock, she realised she had better tell her husband. When he came in, she said: ‘You had better sit down. I have something very important to tell you.’ ‘You’ve not been having an affair, have you?’ he asked. ‘Oh no’, she said, ‘it’s much worse than that’.