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    Parliamentary chambers

    People outside Great Britain believe, that if a man is elected to sit.in Parliament, he ought to have a seat. Indeed, most Parliaments provide each member not only with seat, but with a reserved seat, often a desk, in which papers can be kept. Why, then, when the opportunity came after the war to rebuild the bombed House of Commons did its members decide that their own Chamber should, like the pre-war Chamber, be too small to provide seats for all of them? The new House of Commons has many improvements, including air-conditioning and provision of microphones. It has, however, seats for about two-thirds of its members. No change has been made in its shape. It is still oblong, with seats for the Government supporters on the Speaker's right and seats for the Opposition on his left. There are, facing the Speaker, cross benches for Independent members, those who do not belong to either of the two great political parties. If we examine the kind of Chamber favoured in other countries we find that it is in some cases semi-circular. In most semi-circular Chambers a member who is called upon to speak leaves his seat and goes to a reading-desk (a tribune or rostrum) placed below the raised seat of the President. Instead of facing and addressing the chairman, as in the House of Commons, he faces and addresses the whole House. When a member ends his speech in the House of Commons, other members stand up and face the Speaker. They try to catch his eye, for the order of speakers is not arranged in advance. The speaker decides who is to speak next. The member who is named remains standing, and speaks from the place where he has been sitting. He must address the Speaker, not the House as a whole. The only members who speak from the Clerk's table are the Government and Opposition Leaders. Voting is a simple matter when every member has a reserved seat. In the House of Commons members have to leave their benches and walk into two corridors (called Lobbies). As they pass out they are counted by four persons – two for each side – and it may take ten or fifteen minutes before the figures are announced. (From Oxford Progressive English for Adult Learners by Hornby)

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