Interruptions at Prime Minister’s Questions

Interruptions at PMQs (Prime Minister’s Questions) are recorded in Hansard in a limited way, usually through the insertion of the word ‘[Interruption.]’ and are often followed by the Speaker’s call to order. The house however is collective body and background noise from the chamber during PMQs is important in signalling the general mood and degree of agreement or disagreement with the current speaker.

Most of the significant background noise episodes are collective ‘shouts of agreement’ in support of the current speaker, usually at the end of the turn or when s/he makes a significant point. This occurs more often during DC-EM (David Cameron-Ed Miliband) exchanges compared with DC-other member exchanges. Sometimes there are ‘shouts of dismay’, especially if the members believe a speaker is avoiding a question.

Below is a list of the types of noise that are commonly encountered.

Category Description
((general noise)) A general increase in the level of noise in the chamber caused by many members on all sides either talking or shouting; it is not clear who this is directed at.
((shouts of agreement)) General shouts and cheers of ‘yeh’ or ‘here here’ by many members of one party to signal agreement with the current speaker.
((shouts of dismay)) General shouts of ‘ah’ or ‘no’ by many members of the opposite party to signal dismay at the current speaker’s words or avoidance of topic.
((wooo!)) a collection of noises by several members (often of one party) to signal surprise or shock at what has been said; often a  ‘wooo’ of surprise or something similar.
((yes-yes-yes chorus)) a collective series of ‘yeses’ by one party in rhythm and timed with the current speaker who is listing points; acts to emphasise the points and provide support; most commonly by Tory members for DC.
((laughter)) general laughter by several members at what has been said; may be accompanied by cheers; laughter may be genuine or mocking.
((revealing ‘ah’)) a collective expression of mock ‘realisation’ by several members of one party in response to a fact that has just been revealed; often Tories in support of DC.
((misc)) ‘here here’ – by one or two members

laughter – by one person

other noises, grunts, groans that come across on the speakers


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