This week I got a telling off from Mr Speaker. And to be fair, I was probably bang to rights.
The Prime Minister had been giving yet another statement on Brexit, updating the Commons although nothing had really changed. Responding as Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn had accused her of running down the clock to the cliff edge of a disastrous ‘no deal’ situation.
The Prime Minister responded by suggesting that in fact she had wanted this all done and dusted before Christmas.
I reminded her that it had had been she herself who had decided to pull the vote from the Commons before Christmas and wait until mid-January. In my defence every other colleague on my side said the same. But clearly I had caught the Speaker’s eye, and the gentle but firm wrist slap inevitably followed.
Some members of the public do not like the noisy and boisterous atmosphere but in fact it was intentionally designed that way.
The current Palace of Westminster largely dates from the mid-19th century. But in May 1941 the Commons chamber took a direct hit from a German bomb and was destroyed. The Commons moved into the chamber of the House of Lords, who had to find alternative accommodation.
Prime Minister Winston Churchill oversaw the rebuilding. He wanted a compact, almost intimate chamber which would generate an intensity of debate. First time visitors to the Chamber are struck by how small it is compared to what it looks like on TV. And that means both sides are sitting close to each other, especially when I am sitting on the Front bench.
It can be noisy at times, for sure. One of the clerks who used to run a committee I was on, was promoted to a level where she was allowed to sit at the clerks’ table a couple of times a week to get experience of the main chamber. She told me her initial impression was how noisy it was in there.
It can be frustrating at times when a minister makes a statement you know to be palpably untrue, so I confess to heckling from time to time, but there are standards too. One colleague from the SNP was pulled up by the speaker for calling the PM a liar. He had to apologise.
The chamber is not always noisy: the mood can sometimes be sombre and often the House is united. Sometimes sessions can be quite jovial and funny. Debate can be robust, and sometimes humorous. But as the Brexit deadline grows closer without any apparent progress, I expect more of the boisterous atmospheres.