The Honourable Mem­ber

Mus­ings are thoughts, the thought­ful kind. For the pur­pose of th­ese ar­ti­cles, a-mus­ings are thoughts that might amuse, en­ter­tain and even en­lighten.

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Michael Walker

The pre­fix “The Hon­or­able”, ab­bre­vi­ated to “The Hon.”, or for­merly “The Hon'ble”, a term still used in In­dia, is a ‘style' used be­fore the names of cer­tain classes of per­sons. It is con­sid­ered to be an hon­orific. As an ad­jec­tive, “hon­orific” means “given as a mark of re­spect but hav­ing few or no du­ties”, which might be seen by some to de­scribe those who pop­u­late Houses of As­sem­bly in coun­tries where one-man-lead­er­ship is in place. As a noun the word is a ti­tle im­ply­ing or ex­press­ing re­spect, which should of course mean that our rep­re­sen­ta­tives, if they re­ally mean what they say, should ad­dress each other as “My honourable friend, the thief from …” or “The honourable em­bez­zler from …” , etc. in­stead of throw­ing out wild ac­cu­sa­tions that are sel­dom if ever brought to court.

In May 2013, the Queen ap­proved the style to the Gov­er­nor Gen­eral of Aus­tralia both ret­ro­spec­tively and for cur­rent and fu­ture hold­ers of the of­fice, to be used in the form "His/Her Ex­cel­lency the Honourable" while hold­ing of­fice and as merely "The Honourable" in re­tire­ment. Clearly you need a real job to be an “Ex­cel­lency” in Aus­tralia where the style "The Honourable" is not ac­quired through mem­ber­ship of ei­ther the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives or the Se­nate. A mem­ber or sen­a­tor may have the style if they have ac­quired it sep­a­rately by be­ing a cur­rent or for­mer min­is­ter. Dur­ing pro­ceed­ings within the cham­bers, forms such as "the honourable Mem­ber for Dungby", "the honourable the Leader of the Op­po­si­tion” are used as a par­lia­men­tary cour­tesy and do not im­ply any right to the style.

Closer to home, Mem­bers of the Or­der of the Caribbean Com­mu­nity are en­ti­tled to be styled The Honourable for life, though who th­ese mem­bers are, what the Or­der is, and how they got to be mem­bers is a mys­tery to most. A mem­ber of the Or­der is en­ti­tled by the way to be styled "The Honourable" be­fore that mem­ber's name and to have the suf­fix "O.C.C." placed af­ter, wear as a dec­o­ra­tion on ap­pro­pri­ate oc­ca­sions the in­signia - struck in gold - and the rib­bon of the Or­der, re­side and en­gage in gain­ful oc­cu­pa­tion in any Mem­ber State and to ac­quire and dis­pose of prop­erty in the same man­ner in all re­spects as cit­i­zens of any Mem­ber State, and be is­sued with a travel doc­u­ment de­signed to fa­cil­i­tate travel within the Caribbean Com­mu­nity and which would en­joy in ev­ery Mem­ber State a like sta­tus as a diplo­matic pass­port is­sued by or on be­half of the Govern­ment of any such State – and that's about it!

In Bar­ba­dos, mem­bers of the Par­lia­ment carry two ti­tles: mem­bers of the House of As­sem­bly are styled "The Honourable", while mem­bers of the Se­nate are styled "Sen­a­tor". Per­sons ap­pointed to Her Majesty's Privy Coun­cil are styled "The Right Honourable". Males ac­corded with the Or­der of Bar­ba­dos are styled "Sir", while fe­males are styled "Dame" as a Knight or Dame of St An­drew, or "The Honourable" as Com­pan­ion of Hon­our. Na­tional He­roes of Bar­ba­dos are styled "The Right Ex­cel­lent".

In Puerto Rico, much like the con­ti­nen­tal United States, the term "Hon­or­able" is used, but not re­quired by law, to ad­dress Puerto Rican gov­er­nors as well as city may­ors, mem­bers of state and mu­nic­i­pal leg­is­la­tures, judges and prop­erty reg­is­trars. In Ja­maica, those awarded the Or­der of Ja­maica, which is con­sid­ered Ja­maica's equiv­a­lent to a Bri­tish knight­hood, are like­wise styled "The Honourable".

On the other side of the At­lantic in the Demo­cratic Re­pub­lic of the Congo the pre­fix “Honourable” is used for mem­bers of both cham­bers. In­for­mally, sen­a­tors are some­times given the higher ti­tle of 'Ven­er­a­ble'. In Pak­istan, ju­di­cial of­fi­cers are ad­dressed as “Honourable” while pre­sid­ing in the courts of law. Di­plo­mats are ad­dressed as "Your Ex­cel­lency". The head of state and prime min­is­ter is ad­dressed "Her/His Ex­cel­lency".

UNESCO con­ferred the ti­tle of “Honourable” upon a Pak­istani ed­u­ca­tion­ist, Dr. Malik, in recog­ni­tion of his lead­er­ship and mer­i­to­ri­ous ser­vices, for the pro­mo­tion of education, adult lit­er­acy and vo­ca­tional skill de­vel­op­ment, but whether this award binds the rest of the world to ad­dress­ing him as “Honourable”, though honourable he might well be, is doubt­ful.

In the United King­dom, all sons and daugh­ters of vis­counts and the younger sons of earls are styled with this pre­fix, while the daugh­ters and younger sons of dukes and mar­quesses and the daugh­ters of earls have the higher style of Lord or Lady be­fore their first names. And on it goes …

If you ever feel the urge to write to one of th­ese peo­ple, the style The Honourable is usu­ally used in ad­dress­ing en­velopes, where it is ab­bre­vi­ated to The Hon, in which case Mr. or Esquire are omit­ted. In speech, how­ever, The Honourable John Smith is usu­ally re­ferred to sim­ply as Mr. John Smith. In the House of Com­mons in Lon­don, as in other lower houses in other leg­is­la­tures, mem­bers re­fer to each other as honourable mem­bers etc. out of cour­tesy, but they are not en­ti­tled to the style in writ­ing.

And that's all for to­day, Honourable Read­ers!

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