Heckling in the House of Commons

Heckling in the House of Commons

Visitors and observers of the House of Commons have long remarked on the prevalence of heckling in the Chamber. But what are the consequences or benefits of this behaviour? This study offers an analysis of an original set of quantitative and qualitative data gathered in an anonymous survey completed by Members of Parliament near the end of the 40th Parliament. The survey addressed perceptions of heckling in the House of Commons as well as the impact MPs believe heckling has on their work. A significant number of MPs reported that heckling causes them to participate far less frequently, or not at all, in the work of the House. In addition, many of the words used against fellow MPs in heckles are contrary to Charter values. These words include racism, ageism, sexism, religious discrimination, discrimination against physical disabilities and homophobia.