Tory MP Peter Bone caused consternation in the House of Commons (HOC) on Tuesday after he broke Parliamentary rules by wearing a hat in the chamber.
The minister said he was promoting charity Crazy Hats, which raises money for breast cancer in Northamptonshire.
HOC Speaker John Bercow issued a stern reprimand to the MP, criticising both the choice and location of the offending item.
“I’ve indulged the honourable gentleman for the length of his question, but I’m glad that he’s now taken that hat off. And I sincerely hope he won’t put it on again, preferably at any time, but certainly not in the chamber”, he said.
MP David Liddington added: “I thought for one moment that my honourable friend was auditioning for a part in a remake of the film Elf.”
A ban on hats in the HOC was passed after Parliament feared they made MPs look “ridiculous”.
In 1998 the Labour leader of the house, Ann Taylor, announced rules were changing. “I know some members may feel that they look particularly fetching in the opera hat, but it really does make the House of Commons look ridiculous”, she said.
But in previous centuries MPs could wear headgear when raising a point of order during a vote, as it was thought to help make them more visible to the Speaker.
In the late nineteenth century, tall hats for MPs had been compulsory, and served as place reservations in the Chamber. I was thought to encourage MPs to return to the HOC.
This system was defeated by some MPs bringing two silk hats into the Palace.
In 1990 the rules were updated by Alfred Kinnear MP, as follows:
At all times remove your hat on entering the House, and put it on upon taking your seat; and remove it again on rising for whatever purpose. If the MP asks a question he will stand, and with his hat off; and he may receive the answer of the Minister seated and with his hat on. If on a division he should have to challenge the ruling of the chair, he will sit and put his hat on. If he wishes to address the Speaker on a point of order not connected with a division, he will do so standing with his hat off. When he leaves the House to participate in a division he will take his hat off, but will vote with it on. If the Queen sends a message to be read from the chair, the Member will uncover. In short, how to take his seat, how to behave at prayers, and what to do with his hat, form between them the ABC of the parliamentary scholar.