Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The prefix The Honourable or The Honorable (abbr. The Hon. or formerly The Hon'ble) is a title of quality attached to the names of certain classes of persons.
In the United Kingdom, all sons and daughters of viscounts and barons and the younger sons of earls are styled with this prefix. (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 the eldest sons of dukes, marquesses and earls are known by one of their father or mother's subsidiary titles.) The style is only a courtesy one, however, and on legal documents they are described as, for instance, John Smith, Esq., commonly called The Honourable John Smith. As the wives of sons of peers share the titles of their husbands, the wives of the sons of viscounts and barons and the younger sons of earls are known as, e.g., The Hon. Mrs John Smith.
Some persons are entitled to the prefix by virtue of their offices. Rules exist that allow certain individuals to keep the prefix The Honourable even after retirement.
- Judges of the High Court and other superior courts in the Commonwealth (if the judge is a knight, the style Sir A B is used socially instead of The Honourable Mr Justice B.);
- Members of executive councils (and by extenstion, cabinets);
- Members of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada;
- Members of legislative councils (or senates) where the legislature is bicameral; and
- Certain representatives of the Sovereign, e.g. Lieutenant-Governors of Canadian provinces.
Many corporate entities are also entitled to the style, for example:
- The Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament Assembled;
- The Honourable East India Company;
- The Honourable Artillery Company; etc.
The style The Honourable is always written on envelopes, and formally elsewhere, in which case the style Mr or Esq. is omitted. In speech, however, The Honourable John Smith is referred to simply as Mr John Smith.
In the House of Commons and other lower houses of Parliament and other legislatures, members refer to each other as honourable members etc. out of courtesy, despite the fact that they are not entitled to the style in writing.
Where a person is entitled to the prefix The Right Honourable he will use this higher style instead of The Honourable.
In the United States, the prefix The Honorable is used for a large number of high ranking (and not so high ranking) government officials, including:
- The President and Vice President of the United States
- Members of the Congress and state legislatures
- Members of the Cabinet
- Senior officers of executive departments
- Supreme Court Justices, Federal judges and magistrate judges
- Governors of States of the Union
- Mayors of cities
- State and municipal judges and magistrates
- Other elected officials
The term Your Honor as a spoken form of address is usually reserved for judges and magistrates (who are invariably addressed as such when presiding in court), and occasionally for mayors.
In Australia, all ministers in Commonwealth, state and territory governments are styled The Honourable as a result of their membership of the executive councils of their respective jurisdictions. This title is retained for life. The Presiding officers of both houses of each of the parliaments of the Commonwealth, the state and the territories are also styled The Honourable.
Traditionally, members of the Legislative Councils of the states were also styled The Honourable. This practice is still followed in New South Wales, Western Australia and South Australia. It is not followed in Tasmania. In Victoria, the practice was abolished in 2003. Queensland has no upper house. Members of the Australian Senate are not styled The Honourable unless they are present or former office-holders.
In Canada, the following people are entitled to the style The Honourable for life:
- Members of the Canadian Senate
- Members of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada
- Judges of the Supreme Court of Canada and other superior courts
- Provincial Lieutenant-Governors
In addition, the some people are entitled to the style while in office only:
- The Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons
- Members of provincial Executive Councils
- Speakers of provincial legislatures
It is usual for Speakers of the House of Commons to be made Privy Councillors, in which case they keep the style for life, and provincial Premiers are sometimes also made Privy Councillors.
Members of the Canadian House of Commons and of provincial legislatures refer to each other as "honourable members" but are not entitled to have The Honourable as a prefix in front of their name.
Hong Kong usage
- Members of the Legislative Council
- Members of the Executive Council
- The Chief Executive
- Chief Secretary, Financial Secretary, Secretary of Justice, and Secretaries of Bureaux
- Judges of the Court of Final Appeal
- Judges of the High Court
- Bearers of the title Grand Bauhinia Medal, the highest medal in Hong Kong's honours system
New Zealand usage
In addition to the standard Commonwealth usage, the Speaker of the House of Representatives is entitled to be referred to as "the Honourable". New Zealand office holders who are "honourable" ex-officio are usually personally granted the title for life as a courtesy when they vacate the office.
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