The Speaker of the House has withdrawn and apologised for saying comments made by Opposition Leader Simon Bridges were "smart-arse" in the House this afternoon.

The comments were made in Question Time, following an exchange between Bridges, Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Speaker Trevor Mallard.

"Having, frankly, comments that are smart-arse from the Leader of the Opposition, by way of a disorderly point of order, in the way that I've just warned Mr [David] Seymour of, is not at all helpful," Mallard had said.

Bridges was trying to undermine the Government by raising points of order the Speaker deemed to be not appropriate.


The Shadow Leader of the House, National's Gerry Brownlee, was quick to come to his leader's defence.

"It is surprising to hear you use language like that directed at the Leader of the Opposition, when you are at the same time calling for more order and decorum in the House, and I think, frankly, it's inappropriate."

Mallard appeared to agree.

"I withdraw and apologise for my comment to the Leader of the Opposition."

Although it is reasonably common for the Speaker to ask MPs to withdraw and apologise in the House, it is very uncommon for the Speaker to do so himself.

Mallard went on to say he had "had enough" of the disorderly behaviour of the Opposition.

Parliament has a sizable list of words and phrases which qualify as "unparliamentarily language" that is constantly being updated.

According to the Office of the Clerk, unparliamentarily language is described as "unbecoming' language, insults, and accusations of dishonesty."


For example, in 1933 the phrase "shrewd old bird" was determined to be unparliamentarily.

In 1949, "his brains could revolve inside a peanut shell for a thousand years without touching the sides" was added to the list.

Three years prior, the Clerk ruled that saying "I would cut the honourable gentleman's throat if I had the chance," was not allowed to be said in the House.

Other ban words and phrases include "retardate worm," "humbugs" and "bluebird".