I'm currently watching CSPAN, and they're broadcasting the Parliamentary debate about the bill that would allow (among other things) for the detention of individuals for 90 days without charge. First of all, the British Parliament is so much cooler than the American one. The only reason to watch CSPAN when the U.S. Congress is being shown is if there's some important hearing going on or some ridiculously important vote about to be held. But really, the debates in the U.S. Congress don't matter, no one changes their mind, and it isn't real debate, just people reading speeches counter to each other. Even if the British Parliament is arguing over something innane, it's awesome. I watch it every opportunity I get. If CSPAN just stopped covering the U.S. Congress and started covering the U.K. Parliament, they could become a pay-per view channel or something. It's that good. There was one point during Blair's opening statements when everyone was shouting at him, and he stopped reading his speech and said "Excuse me? Did the right honorable gentleman just say 'police state'?" I can't believe people just get to shout out stuff like that, he was getting heckled non-stop. No one in the U.S. Congress ever has to think on their feet, they all just read pre-prepared statements, know how much time they have, and that's it. But anyway, I've got lots of questions about how the British Parliament works. 1.) What power does the House of Lords actually have? I've heard repeatedly that all the real power is in the House of Commons, but I just saw Charles Kennedey say that even if Tony Blair were to get the bill through the House of Commons, that it wouldn't pass in the House of Lords, and asked what Blair would do then. He asked specifically if Blair would then finally reach some sort of concensus about the 90 days provision, or whether he would "ram it through with a parliamentary motion," or something like that. 2.) What does it mean when MP's stand up? After Blair, or anyone really, made any sort of point, you would see certain MP's stand up for a short while. Does this express agreement, disagreement, or something totally different? 3.) Are there any regulations about speaking time and who gets to speak? It seemed that everyone, despite being rowdy and generally British, was good at taking turns speaking. Blair would talk for a short amount of time, Howard would then talk, request Blair answer a question, and then promptly allow for Blair to answer said question. Then Blair would say whatever he was going to say and quickly stop talking. In the U.S., Senators and Congressmen go on FOREVER. There are time limits and ****, but people just give up their time to let others blab on and on forever. How is it that the speaking time in British Parliament is so tidy? 4.) What does the Home Secretary do? During the debate, Howard kept mentioning that the Home Secretary repeatedly said that 90 days wasn't set in stone, and was a rather arbitrary number. What does this guy do, is he like the Secretary of Homeland Security in the U.S., or does he have another analogous figure in the U.S. Government? 5.) Do they have to say "Honorable Gentleman," when they adress someone? It seems that every time they adress someone, they say "Honorable Gentleman," or even "Right Honorable Gentleman," but when it's someone that they don't like, it seems that all they're doing is being really Britishly sarcastic about the whole title. Is using a title like that part of the Parliamentary procedure, or is that just British tradition? 6.) Who is the guy in the judge-like outfit that calls order to Parliament? I noticed that once, and only once, there was this distinguished looking guy in a black robe who called order to Parliament. Who is he? In the U.S., there is a "President Pro-Tempore" in the Senate, who is just the most senior member of the majority party, and he will call order to Congress if it's needed. Is that guy something simmilar, or is he just there to be a sort of referee without having been elected to any position?