This article is designed to help students understand how the House of Commons works, through a fictional rendition of Members of Parliament playing Monopoly. Based on the following dialogue on the ownership of stations, students may be asked to identify set phrases, rules and practices at work in the British lower house, or to write and act out their own parliamentary debate.
The following links may be useful for such an activity:
British Members of Parliaments (MP) have been playing a giant game of Monopoly for a few hours now. They are all fairly tired and get easily annoyed. Many have already left the game and gone home. Besides the Speaker of the House of Commons, 8 (fictional) members are still sitting:
- The Member for Old Kent Road (Labour)
- The Member for Whitechapel Road (Labour)
- The Member for Euston Road (Labour)
- The Member for Pentonville Road (Labour)
- The Member for Bond Street (Conservative)
- The Member for Coventry Street (Liberal-Democrat)
- The Leader of the Opposition (Labour)
- The Prime Minister (Conservative)
Let’s see how they are doing…
Mr Speaker: Order! Order! May I remind all the Honourable and Right Honourable Members of this House that we only have two hours left to finish this debate, sorry, this game, so please let’s focus on the matter at hand, which is the question of who owns the four Stations. The Member for Old Kent Road!
The Member for Old Kent Road (Labour): Thank you Mister Speaker. As I was saying before being interrupted, I think that we should not tolerate any longer for the four Stations to be owned by private companies… Sorry, I mean by private players. It is a disgrace and an outrage that everybody using collective transportation, sorry, I mean landing on a station square, should have to add to the private profit of players who do not have the people’s best interest in mind. I will therefore, from now on, and I encourage all my Honourable Friends to do the same, refuse to pay the extraordinary fee requested by Station owners.
Several members: Hear! Hear!
Mr Speaker: Several players are trying to catch my eye, as they want to be given a chance to play before the end of the night. A two-minute limit now applies to all speeches, sorry, I mean to all players’ turns. The Member for Bond Street!
The Member for Bond Street (Conservative): Thank you Mr Speaker. As always, the Honourable Lady speaks as if this side of the House were only trying to hurt the people of this country, when it is quite the opposite. May I humbly suggest that private Station owners are paying taxes to the Bank like anybody else, and thus create much more wealth than any publicly-owned Station will ever do. Most importantly, and frankly this is quite ironical coming from a member of a party who claims to represent the workers of this country…
The Member for Whitechapel Road (Labour): Why don’t you keep your sarcasm to yourself?
Mr Speaker: Order! Order! No personal remark should be uttered in this House. The Member for Bond Street should, and will be heard.
The Member for Bond Street (Conservative): Thank you Mr Speaker. The Honourable Gentleman does not like me pointing out his party’s contradictions, but I am only stating the obvious. It’s been a very long time since the Labour party last made a decision which actually promoted the interest of the people it claims to represent, or indeed made any decisions at all.
The Member for Euston Road (Labour): Rose
The Member for Bond Street (Conservative): Sorry, I cannot give way, I mean, I cannot pass on my turn, as I have waited for hours to be able to play, and time is running short. May I just finish by saying that I fully oppose the idea of players selling the Stations back to the Bank, as I think it would be disastrous both for employment and for the quality of service delivery.
Mr Speaker: The Member for Pentonville Road!
The Member for Pentonville Road (Labour): Thank you Mr Speaker. I know that several players still want to contribute, so I will be very brief. May I just read out to you this email that I have received from a member of my constituency no longer than thirty minutes ago. She is a mother of four, and has had to spend an awful lot of time in Jail for failing to pay Station fees that she should never have been asked to pay in the first place. Here is what she writes: “The current state of affairs does not allow me to fully realize my children’s aspirations. What am I supposed to say to my little boy when he asks me why I am locked up? Should I just tell him I picked the wrong chance card? Or should I tell him the game was rigged from the start?” This is what the actions of this government have led to, and the Honourable Members and Right Honourable Members of the Conservative Party should be ashamed of the part they have been playing in this quagmire.
Several members: Shame! Shame!
Several members: Start clapping
Mr Speaker: Order, order! May I remind my Honourable and Right Honourable colleagues that our proceedings are being watched widely. I solemnly ask them to be on their best behaviour and I urgently remind them that clapping is not in order in this House. The Member for Coventry Street!
The Member for Coventry Street (Liberal-Democrat): Thank you Mister Speaker. As somebody who has been been pushing for a thorough revision of the entire rules of the game for years, I must say that I am quite appalled by the turn of the debate. Who, in this this day and age, can still think that either private or public ownership are relevant answers to the incommensurable challenges that we are faced with? Who, in this day and age, can still push for tax reforms when what this country needs is a reform – full stop? Who, in this day and age, can still think of not voting for us at the next election?
Mr Speaker: Order. The Member for Coventry Street has gone off the rails – if you’ll allow me – and seems to have lost his original train of thought. I’m afraid that we are running out of time, and it is therefore high time the Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister wrapped up the debate. The Leader of the Opposition!
The Leader of the Opposition (Labour): Thank you Mr Speaker. I have not much to add to what my Hounourable and Learned Friend the Member for Old Kent Road has said earlier. She has encouraged us to refuse paying the Station fees demanded by private owners, and if the Right Honourable Lady, as a lawyer, thinks it is the way forward, I endorse her proposal.
Mr Speaker: Prime Minister!
The Prime Minister (Conservative): Thank you Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, it is quite late, and I am tired of playing games, so I will go straight to the heart of the matter. As the Prime Minister of this country, I have listened to tonight’s passionate debate carefully, and that is why I will not take it into account. I was convinced before, and I still am very much of the same opinion, that this country does not need private owners to run Stations, but rather, to get rid of Stations all together. This way, the hardworking people of this country will be able to use the cars they deservingly earned and bought, and the softworking people will just have to go by. I commend this motion to the House.
Mr Speaker: On a point of order. I have just consulted with the clerks of the House, and Erskine May is quite clear on the fact that no Government, whatever its motives, can ask for a vote on the removal of specific squares of the board. The aforementioned motion will therefore not be voted on. I repeat, the aforementioned will not be voted on. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think we could all use some sleep, and since no one but me actually seems to know what we are doing anyway, I suggest we just all go to bed and call it a tie. Interruption!