MHoC user manual – get involved, submit a petition, read the FAQs!Watch
This help thread is a sort of 'beginners' guide' to the MHoC, with the basic information about how our system works and the ways in which you can get involved.
Scroll down for:
* What is the Model House of Commons?
* How does the MHoC work?
* How do I join a party?
* How do I become an MP?
* How do I write a bill?
* How do I write a motion?
* Can I set up a party?
To quickly and easily submit a petition to the MHoC, use the petition tool here!
If you have a question that is not covered in this thread, then please contact the Speaker (Andrew97) or the Deputy Speaker (CatusStarbright).
The MHoC is TSR's very own model parliament. We're first and foremost a debating club, but we like to pretend that we are actually running the country as we debate, so we divide ourselves up into six political parties, have elections every six months to elect 50 MPs and form a government and an opposition.
People from all over the site and all over the political spectrum come together to create their own policies and ideas in the form of bills, motions and petitions for how the country should be run. The TSR community then discusses and debates these ideas, and finally the proposals are voted on.
We give you the chance to chat politics in a unique, versatile and dynamic setting that makes it unlike anything else on the web. If you want fun, versatile, dynamic debate with that little bit of magic that transform's it into an experience like no other, then come and join in right away!
One thing that I really want to get clear from the off is that you do not have to be an MP to get involved! There are certain things that only MPs can do (which are detailed below under "How do I become an MP?", but absolutely anyone with a TSR account can turn up and start debating. Why don't you give it a go right now by going back to the main MHoC forum, finding an open bill or motion, giving it a read and posting your views on it?
If you want to find out more about how the MHoC works you can read or check the two documents that set out how the MHoC operates:
* The Constitution, which is a binding document that sets out rules that everyone has to play by.
* The Guidance Document, which is not strictly binding, and serves more to guide the Speaker in making their decisions. This means that in certain circumstances the guidance document may not be adhered to perfectly if common sense or fairness dictates otherwise.
It might also be worth consulting the MHoC guidelines, which set out the basic standards of being a decent person in the MHoC. We have our own designated member of the Support Team in the MHoC, the Serjeant-at-Arms TeeEff, and our Section Leader is MrDystopia.
Every six months or so we have a general election, in which all TSR users with over 100 posts and 3 months on TSR are allowed to vote. Most people vote for one of the political parties (of which there are currently six) but it is possible to stand as an independent candidate if you are not part of a party. When the results are in, 50 MP seats are distributed via the D'Hondt system of proportional representation. If you want to know how that works there is an explanation below this paragraph, if you couldn't care less then it happens by magic, but it means that seats are given out in proportion to the number of votes cast (other than independents who can obviously only win one seat for themselves). No votes are wasted and it would be highly unusual for any single party to get anywhere near an overall majority of seats.
The D'Hondt method works by taking the number of votes cast for a party and dividing it by the number of seats the party holds plus one.
For example if the election result was as follows:
Blue Party: 50 votes
Red Party: 30 votes
Yellow Party: 20 votes
and we wanted to award 4 seats we would do it like this:
Awarding the first seat:
No parties hold a seat, so the divisor for all parties is 0+1=1:
Blue's total is highest so the first seat is awarded to the Blue Party.
Awarding the second seat:
Blue holds a seat, so the divisor Blue is now 1+1=2:
Red's total is highest so the second seat is awarded to the Red Party.
Awarding the third seat:
Red now also holds a seat, so its divisor is also now 1+1=2:
Blue's total is highest so the third seat is awarded to the Blue Party.
Awarding the fourth seat:
Blue now has a second seat, so its divisor goes up to 2+1=3:
Yellow's total is highest so the fourth seat is awarded to the Yellow Party.
Two things happen over the following week: parties select the MPs to fill the seats they have been designated (how this happens depends upon the party) and parties start to talk to each other to form a coalition. By the end of the week coalition proposals have to be submitted to the Speaker, and the coalition with the most seats (and more often than not this isn't a majority either) gets to form the government. The biggest remaining party forms the official opposition, and a cabinet and shadow cabinet are picked.
We then get down to business, which is writing, debating and voting on different sorts of items, which predominantly fall into five different categories:
These are used to change TSR law and are the most common sort of item debated. If you want to propose a new law then you do this by writing a bill. There is a template in a post below to tell you how to do this as there are specific things a bill has to include. The bill debating process can include up to three, increasingly shorter, readings. It is up to the person or party who submitted the bill to decide whether they want to submit a second or third reading or to send it at any point to vote. Once bills go to vote they are passed into law (and become Acts) if more MPs vote in favour than against.
Motions are used to debate a statement. This means that they have no effect on the law regardless of whether they pass or fail. Often they are used to call upon the government to do something, which means they are usually submitted by opposition parties or individual MPs. The format of a motion is much simpler than that of a bill, but there is a guide provided below to help you. Motions often vary wildly in size, ranging from a single sentence to a fully-justified essay of several paragraphs.
There are some powers that the government can exercise just because they are the government, without needing to go to Parliament to ask for its consent. These include fairly major things such as starting wars or recognising new countries, or small changes such as changing the National Curriculum. These powers are modelled in the MHoC by using ministerial reports. These can only be proposed by government ministers. Often ministerial reports contain a mixture of so-called executive powers (which the government can wield themselves) and powers that require a bill to be written. Unlike all other items, they pass automatically and parts requiring only executive powers are considered enacted. There is still a means for some people to force a vote on the report – the Prime Minister, the minister who proposed it and the Leader of the Opposition may all call for a pass/fail vote in the usual manner should they wish.
Unlike the three types of item above, amendments actually have an effect outside of our pretend UK. Amendments are how we make changes to the Constitution and the Guidance Document, and so change the rules of the game. It is not possible to change the rules of the MHoC with a bill – so you can write a bill to change the voting system in general elections and we will debate it as if it were the real-life UK and not our general elections on-site. To propose an amendment you have to collect four other MPs to second, or five if you are not an MP yourself. The five MPs named on the amendment must come from at least two different parties. Because the Constitution is binding the rules for passing an amendment to that are different – twice as many MPs must support the amendment as oppose it.
Petitions are the easiest way for someone new to submit something to the MHoC because the do not need the backing of an MP. In fact MPs aren't allowed to submit them – they are for non-MPs who want to get involved. Petitions are quite similar to motions in that they are just a statement, which is debated for 4 days before we vote upon it. Rather than having to follow a specific format for a petition and then submit to the Speaker, there is a petition tool which will automatically create a petition for you and post it to the MHoC forum.
In the MHoC we have four political parties:
– The Conservative and Unionist Party
– The Labour Party
– The Libertarian Party
– The Liberal Democrats
You probably have some idea which parties you might want to join and which you definitely wouldn't, but the parties on TSR are different to parties in real life so it is often best to post in the MHoC welcome thread, from where current MHoCers can point you towards the party they think would be best for you.
To actually join a party you have to apply to their private usergroup, which you do on this page. It may take some time between applying and being accepted, because you have to be approved by a member of the party leadership. Often they will want to run a dupe-check, which makes sure you are not a duplicate account of an existing MHoCer (and trying to spy on another party, for example).
Once you are accepted into a party's usergroup you will gain access to their private subforum, which is where internal discussion take place. It is important that you do not share details of what goes on in that subforum with anyone who is not a member of that party.
Whilst you can do most things without being an MP, you have to be an MP to do a few things:
* Submit bills and motions under your own name.
* Propose and second amendments.
* Vote on items in the Division Lobby.
There are two different types of MP: party MPs and independents.
Party MPs hold one of the seats allocated to a party after a general election. These are selected by the party at the start of term by whichever means the party chooses. The seats belong to the party, so if an MP resigns mid-term (or the party removes them if their rules allow for that) the party select someone else to replace them. This can happen quite frequently so if you join a party between elections and are an active member you stand a good chance of getting a seat before the next election.
Independent MPs stand in a general election and appear on the ballot paper. If they are successfully elected then they become independent MPs. Their seat belongs to them and only them and they cannot be removed from it (other than due to low turnout) even if they choose to join a party during the term.
All MPs are expected to maintain a turnout of at least 70%. This is calculated based on voting in public votes in the Division Lobby. Every four weeks turnout is reviewed for the preceding four-week block. If an MP has a turnout below 70% their seat is highlighted, and if they record a turnout below 70% in a second voting review at any point in the term their seat goes to a by-election, and other parties will get the chance to compete to win it.
It is important to note that turnout is based upon the seat as a whole. This is done by giving all 50 seats a number, so rather than measuring Joe Bloggs's turnout I measure the turnout for seat 30. That means that if Jane Doe held the seat for the first three weeks of the review period, the turnout will be the cumulative turnout for both users.
Initially this can be quite daunting as there is a particular format that needs to be followed when bills are written. Traditionally the formatting of bills on TSR has been done in a sort of hybrid format between a bill and a passed Act of Parliament. Quite how this hybrid works is a matter of opinion – you will see different parties and individuals use slightly different formatting and this is not a problem or (within reason) "wrong". The format used in the guide linked below is the personal preference of the Speaker – your party might have a particular house style they wish you to use.
What is more important is that the content of the bill is correct. This means including certain key parts and using proper legislative language.
Because the bill-writing guide is quite a large thing it is in a separate thread.
Motions are by their nature much simpler things to write. They always refer to the House – because it is the House that will decide whether or not they are carried in the end. The opening of a motion should be something like "This House believes...", "This House condemns..." or "This House calls upon the Government to...". With regard to the latter, it is traditional that the topic of a motion (however it starts) is something the Government could respond to, should they so wish, rather than calling for something to be enacted that could be enacted by anyone through a bill.
After the opening you can write anything you like – this could go on for one sentence or several paragraphs. The writing style is something like a mini-essay or speech – unlike with bills you give your justifications and costings within the text of the motion.
Finally, to make life easier for the Speaker it is helpful to send your motion submitted within [field] tags and with a title, in a format similar to the following:
[field=Motion on Manchester United Shirts 2016]
This House calls upon the Government to prohibit the wearing of Manchester United football shirts in government or government-owned buildings.
The Speaker will then give it a unique number which will be kept throughout its journey through the House, be that to further readings and/or to vote.
In theory you can, in practice this is very difficult.
Because all parties need to be provided with a usergroup and a private subforum, to be accepted as a new party you need to persuade the Speaker and the TSR Community Team that your party idea is worthy of their somewhat limited technical resources.
This falls into two categories:
1) A novel ideology. Your party should not be too similar to a party already existing within the House and should be able to bring something new to the table with an ideology that is not part of the mainstream of any existing party.
2) Sufficient activity. You need ten active members to form a party, and you need to prove that a good number of these are likely to stay active in the MHoC if the party is accepted, as the creation of a party structure is a difficult task. This means that the list of ten people you submit to the Speaker needs to include a number of people who both fit your party's ideology and have been active in the MHoC before. Some of these may be defectors from other parties, and it may be permitted that members of other parties who have some ideology in common are allowed to be dual-members during the setup process, but there also need to be people who know their way around the MHoC and are not currently in a party.
Proposing a party is one of the few times where regular users are allowed to post on the main MHoC forum. You should create a new thread with a fairly detailed description of your party's position, from which you can look for people who might be interested. There is no timescale for you to get your 10 initial members, but the party will not be created until there is a persuasive case that the party will not be a one-month wonder.
In the meantime, or if your party is not accepted, it is possible to stand in a general election as an independent MP.