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It is commonly thought that they are bowing to either Mr Speaker or to the Mace, which lies during sittings of the house in the chamber in one of two brackets inbetween the entrance and the speaker, according to whether or not the house is in committee. This is said to be a show of respect to one or the other. In actuality, the practice began when the Commons sat in St. Stephen's Chapel. Members bowed to the altar. The altar, being raised up on some steps, was also where the speaker's chair was located. The practice of bowing, over the roughly 300 years in which the Commons sat in the Chapel, came to be misunderstood as bowing to the speaker. It was therefore resumed when the new chamber opened, with members bowing to the speaker.

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Q: Why do mps bow when the leave the house of commons?
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