Exceptionalist
in Held in contempt
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The chapter opens with a vignette from a Commons debate in June 2020 on an independent bullying investigation process. The story illustrates a persistent problem which undermines the reputation of the House of Commons – the tendency of MPs to treat themselves as an exception to the rules which they dictate for the rest of the country.

The chapter explains the ways in which MPs do have an exceptional status – as elected office holders with certain privileges and powers. But it argues that MPs often misinterpret their status and inappropriately exempt themselves from the rules – using the examples of the Cash for Questions and MPs’ expenses scandals.

The chapter argues that self-regulation breeds misbehaviour and that the Palace of Westminster exacerbates MPs’ sense of their exceptional status. It concludes that MPs need to be honest with themselves about the actual purposes for which their powers, privileges and exemptions have been granted and recognise the proper boundaries that these place around their exceptional status.

Held in contempt

What’s wrong with the House of Commons?

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