World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Her Majesty's Most Loyal Opposition (United Kingdom)

Article Id: WHEBN0000711276
Reproduction Date:

Title: Her Majesty's Most Loyal Opposition (United Kingdom)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, Leader of the Opposition (United Kingdom), Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Public Accounts Committee (United Kingdom)
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Her Majesty's Most Loyal Opposition (United Kingdom)

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the United Kingdom

Her Majesty's Most Loyal Opposition, or the Official Opposition, in the United Kingdom is led by the Leader of the Opposition. This is usually the political party with the second-largest number of seats in the House of Commons, as the largest party will usually form Her Majesty's Government. Since May 2010, the Official Opposition has been the Labour Party.


The phrase His Majesty's Opposition was coined in 1826, before the advent of the modern House of Commons, John Hobhouse said jokingly, "It is said to be hard on His Majesty's Ministers to raise objections of this character but it is more hard on His Majesty's Opposition to compel them to take this course."

The phrase was widely welcomed and has been in use ever since.

Opposition days

Whilst most days in the House of Commons are set aside for government business, twenty days in each session are set aside for opposition debates. Of these days, seventeen are at the disposal of the Leader of the Opposition and three can be used by the leader of the smaller, or Tertiary, opposition party (for most recent history this has been the Liberal Democrats).[1]

Although the Opposition has no more formal powers in setting the Parliamentary agenda, in reality they have a certain influence through a process known as the usual channels.[1]

Leader of the Opposition

The Leader of Her Majesty's Most Loyal Opposition is often seen as the Prime Minister-in-waiting; as well as his salary as an MP, he or she receives a statutory salary and perquisites like those of a cabinet minister, including appointment as a Privy Councillor. Since 1915, the Leader of the Opposition has, like the Prime Minister, always been a member of the House of Commons. Before that a member of the House of Lords sometimes took on the role, although often there was no overall Leader of the Opposition.

Although there has never been a dispute as to who holds the position, under the Ministerial and other Salaries Act 1975, the Speaker’s decision on the identity of the Leader of the Opposition is final.[1] The current Leader of the Opposition is Ed Miliband, elected leader of the Labour Party on 25 September 2010.

Ministers' Questions

Prime Minister's Questions

The most public parliamentary function of the Leader of the Opposition is Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs), currently a 30-minute session held on Wednesday at 12 PM when Parliament is sitting. The Leader of the Opposition has six questions, which s/he sometimes splits into two sets. Other backbench opposition MPs also have the right to question the Prime Minister; they are selected either through a ballot, or by "catching the Speaker's eye". By convention, other Shadow Cabinet members do not question the Prime Minister at PMQs, except when standing-in for the Leader.

Other Ministers' Questions

Every government department is subjected to questions in the House of Commons and the House of Lords. As with PMQs, the official opposition spokesmen are allocated a number of questions, and in addition backbench MPs are free to ask questions. In the House of Lords, opposition spokespeople also question the government. This is one of the reasons why every government department (and opposition shadow department) has at least one member of parliament and one peer in it.


As is usual with Westminster systems, and other statutory assemblies and councils in the UK, the government and its supporters sit to the Speaker's right, whilst the Opposition parties sit to his/her left.[2] Currently, members from the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties (which form the Government in coalition) sit to the Speaker's right, and members from the Labour Party and other minor parties sit to the Speaker's left.

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b c Standard Note:SN/PC/3910 UK Parliament, 8 February 2006, accessed 5 May 2010
  2. ^ Opposition BBC News, 19 January 2006, accessed 3 June 2006
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.