The Speaker of the UK House of Commons has announced that clerks — who look after the business of parliament — should no longer wear wigs at the table in the chamber. They will also cease to wear court dress, but they will continue to wear gowns, so as not to become confused with members or other parliament staff.
In the US Senate, many members used to take snuff, long ago. A box of snuff was always kept on the vice president's table. The senators would step up to the vice president's table and take a pinch of snuff.
After this proved irritating for non-snuff takers — and distracting for speakers — the black snuff boxes were henceforth secured to the walls. There are snuffboxes in the UK parliament too.
In France, the main chamber of the National Assembly has two curtained areas at each end of the main chamber known as the "hemicycle." On crucial votes, MPs hide behind the curtains until the last minute to swing the vote.
In 2009, when Nicholas Sarkozy was president, he lost a critical vote and pilloried the opposition for "backhand maneuvering."
A person known as Black Rod is sent from the UK House of Lords Chamber to the Commons Chamber to summon MPs to hear the Queen's Speech. Traditionally the door of the Commons is slammed in Black Rod's face to symbolize the Commons' independence. He then bangs three times on the door with the rod, after which the MPs talk loudly and follow Black Rod into the Lords to hear the Queen.
Named and Shamed
If a UK MP has disregarded the authority of the chair, or has "persistently and willfully obstructed the House by abusing its rules," he or she may be "named." The Speaker says "I name Mr. George White" (or whoever). Once agreed by the house, the MP must leave the chamber for five days — on first offense.
In the UK parliament, you are not allowed to call a fellow MP a hypocrite, a liar, pipsqueak, swine, rat, blackguard or tart.
One recipe involves dried navy beans, four quarts of hot water, smoked ham hocks and a chopped onion.