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Encyclopedia > Speaker of the British House of Commons
United Kingdom

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In the United Kingdom, the Speaker of the House of Commons is the presiding officer of the House of Commons, and is seen historically as the First Commoner of the Land. The current Speaker is The Right Honourable Michael Martin MP, who took office in 2000 and was re-elected on 5 May 2005 following the 2005 general election. The Houses of Parliament, seen over Westminster Bridge The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative body in the United Kingdom and British overseas territories. ... In the United Kingdom, the State Opening of Parliament is an annual event held usually in October or November that marks the commencement of a session of Parliament. ... The British Monarchy is a shared monarchy. ... Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor; born 21 April 1926) is Queen of sixteen sovereign states, holding each crown and title equally. ... This article is about the British House of Lords. ... The Lord Speaker (or Lady Speaker) will be a new position in the British Parliament created once the Constitutional Reform Acts provisions about the Speakership of the House of Lords comes into effect. ... Hélène Valerie Hayman, Baroness Hayman, PC, née Middleweek (born 26 March 1949) is a Labour policitian. ... The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. ... Michael John Martin MP (born 3 July 1945) is the current Speaker of the House of Commons in the United Kingdom. ... Prime Ministers Questions is a Parliamentary practice in the United Kingdom where every Wednesday when the House of Commons is sitting, the Prime Minister spends half an hour answering questions from MPs. ... Her Majestys Government, or when the sovereign is male, His Majestys Government, abbreviated HMG, is the formal title used by the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the governments of some other kingdoms where executive authority is theoretically vested in the monarch... In the Politics of the United Kingdom, the Cabinet is a formal body comprised of government officials chosen by the Prime Minister. ... The Prime Minister is in practice the most important political office in the United Kingdom. ... For other people of the same name, see Tony Blair (disambiguation) Anthony Charles Lynton Blair (born 6 May 1953)[1] is the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, Leader of the UK Labour Party, and Member of the UK Parliament... The office of Deputy Prime Minister is one that has only existed occasionally in the history of the United Kingdom. ... 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The office of Speaker dates to the 14th century. The Speaker presides over the House's debates, determining which members may speak. The Speaker is also responsible for maintaining order during debate, and may punish members who break the rules of the House. Conventionally, the Speaker remains non-partisan, and renounces all affiliation with his or her former political party when taking office. The Speaker does not take part in debate nor vote (except to break ties, and even then, subject to conventions that maintain his or her non-partisan status). Aside from duties relating to presiding over the House, the Speaker also performs administrative and procedural functions, and remains a constituency Member of Parliament (MP). A Member of Parliament, or MP, is a representative elected by the voters to a parliament. ... A Member of Parliament, or MP, is a representative elected by the voters to a parliament. ...


Historically, the Lord Chancellor presided in the Upper House of Parliament, the House of Lords. However, this function devolved to a separate person, the Lord Speaker, under the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, in July 2006. This article or section needs a complete rewrite for the reasons listed on the talk page. ... This article is about the British House of Lords. ... The Lord Speaker (or Lady Speaker) will be a new position in the British Parliament created once the Constitutional Reform Acts provisions about the Speakership of the House of Lords comes into effect. ... The Constitutional Reform Act 2005 (2005 c. ...

Contents

History

The office of Speaker is almost as old as Parliament itself. The earliest year for which a presiding officer has been identified is 1258, when Peter de Montfort presided over the Parliament held in Oxford. Early presiding officers were known by the title parlour or prolocutor. The first "Speaker" of the House of Commons was Sir Thomas Hungerford, who took office in 1376. Peter de Montfort (died 1265) is said to have presided over a meeting of the British House of Commons at a Parliament held in Oxford in 1258 (dubbed by the supporters of Henry III as the Mad Parliament). He is the earliest person recorded as the presiding officer of the... The Oxford Parliament (1258), also known as the Mad Parliament and the First English Parliament, assembled during the reign of Henry III of England. ... Sir Thomas Hungeford (cir. ...


Until the 17th century, members of the House of Commons often viewed their Speaker as an agent of the Crown. As Parliament evolved, however, the Speaker's position grew into one that involved more duties to the House than to the Crown; such was definitely the case by the time of the English Civil War. This change is sometimes said to be reflected by an incident in 1642, when King Charles I entered the House in order to search for and arrest five members for high treason. When the King asked him if he knew of the location of these members, the Speaker, William Lenthall, famously replied: "May it please your Majesty, I have neither eyes to see nor tongue to speak in this place but as the House is pleased to direct me, whose servant I am here." The Crown is a term which is used to separate the government authority and property of the state in a kingdom from any personal influence and private assets held by the current Monarch. ... The English Civil War was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations which took place between Parliamentarians (known as Roundheads) and Royalists (known as Cavaliers) from 1642 until 1651. ... Charles I (19 November 1600 – 30 January 1649) was King of England, King of Ireland, and King of Scots from 27 March 1625 until his execution in 1649. ... Under English, and later British law, high treason is the crime of disloyalty to the Sovereign. ... William Lenthall (1591 – September 3, 1662), was an English politician of the Civil War period, Speaker of the House of Commons. ...


The development of Cabinet government under King William III in the late 17th century caused further change in the nature of the Speakership. Speakers were generally associated with the ministry, and often held other government offices. For example, Robert Harley served simultaneously as Speaker and as a Secretary of State between 1704 and 1705. The Speaker between 1728 and 1761, Arthur Onslow, reduced ties with the government, though the office did remain to a large degree political. The Speakership evolved into its modern form—in which the holder is an impartial and apolitical officer who does not belong to any party—only during the middle of the 19th century. Cabinet government refers to any government in which most executive power is invested in a cabinet - often the members act with collective responsibility. ... William III of England (The Hague,14 November 1650 – Hampton Court, 8 March 1702; also known as William II of Scotland and William III of Orange) was a Dutch aristocrat and a Protestant Prince of Orange from his birth, Stadtholder of the United Netherlands from 28 June 1672, King of... Robert Harley, 1st Earl of Oxford and Mortimer (5 December 1661 – 21 May 1724), was an English statesman of the Stuart and early Georgian periods. ... In several countries, Secretary of State is a senior government position. ... Arthur Onslow (October 1, 1691 - February 17, 1768), English politician, elder son of Foot Onslow (d. ...


By convention Speakers are normally addressed in Parliament as Mr. Speaker (or Mr. Deputy Speaker for their deputies). When Betty Boothroyd, the first female speaker, presided, she was, at her request, addressed as Madam Speaker. When Betty Harvie-Anderson had served in the 1970s as a Deputy Speaker, on the other hand, she had been addressed as "Mr Deputy Speaker".


Over 150 individuals have served as Speaker of the House of Commons. Their names are inscibed in gold leaf around the upper walls of Room C of the House of Commons Library. Betty Boothroyd, who was elected in 1992 and served until 2000, was the first woman to fill the position. Her successor and the present incumbent, Michael Martin, is the first Roman Catholic to serve as Speaker since the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, although Catholics did of course serve during the reign of Queen Mary I. The House of Commons Library is the library and information resource of the lower house of the British Parliament. ... Rt. ... The Roman Catholic Church, most often spoken of simply as the Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with over one billion members. ... The Protestant Reformation was a movement in the 16th century to reform the Catholic Church in Western Europe. ... Mary I Queen of England and Ireland Mary I (18 February 1516–17 November 1558) was Queen of England and Queen of Ireland from 6 July 1553 (de jure) or 19 July 1553 (de facto) until her death. ...


Election

Members of Parliament (MPs) elect the Speaker from amongst their own ranks. The House must elect a Speaker at the beginning of each new parliamentary term after a General Election, or after the death or resignation of the incumbent. Once elected, a Speaker continues in office until the dissolution of Parliament. Customarily, the House re-elects Speakers who desire to continue in office for more than one term. Theoretically, the House could vote against re-electing a Speaker, but such an event would be extremely unlikely. A Member of Parliament, or MP, is a representative elected by the voters to a parliament. ... A general election is an election in which all members of a given political body are up for election. ...


The procedure for electing a Speaker has changed in recent years. Until 1971, the Clerk of the House of Commons became temporary Chairman of the House. As the Clerk is never a Member, he would silently stand and point at the Member who was to speak. However, this procedure broke down at the election of a new Speaker in 1971 (see below) and had to be changed. Since that time, as recommended by a Select Committee, the Father of the House (the member of the House with the longest period of unbroken service) becomes the presiding officer. A Select Committee is a committee made up of a small number of parliamentary members appointed to deal with particular areas or issues originating in the Westminster System of parliamentary democracy. ... Father of the House is a term that has by tradition been unofficially bestowed on certain members of some national legislatures, most notably the House of Commons in the United Kingdom. ...


Until 2001, the election of a Speaker was conducted as a routine matter of House of Commons business. A member would move "That Mr(s). [X] do take the Chair of this House as Speaker", and following debate (which may have included an amendment to replace the name of the member on whom the Speakership was to be conferred), a routine Division of the House would resolve in favour of one candidate. There was, however, a considerable amount of behind-the-scenes lobbying before suitable candidates were agreed upon, and so it was very rare for a new Speaker to be opposed. However, this system broke down in 2000 when 14 rival candidates declared for the job and the debate occupied an entire Parliamentary day. The House of Commons Procedure Committee then re-examined the means of electing a Speaker and recommended a new system which, as of 2005, has yet to be used.


From 2001, candidates will need to be nominated by at least twelve members, of whom at least three must be of a different party than the candidate. Each member may nominate no more than one candidate. The House then votes by secret ballot; an absolute majority is required for victory. If no candidate wins a majority, then the individual with the fewest votes is eliminated, as are any candidates who receive less than five percent of the votes cast. The House continues to vote, for several rounds if necessary, until one member receives the requisite majority. Then, the House votes on a formal motion to appoint the member in question to the Speakership. (In the unlikely event that this motion fails, the House must hold a fresh series of ballots on all of the nominees.) The Polling by William Hogarth (1755); Before the secret ballot was introduced voter intimidation was commonplace Wikisource has original text related to this article: A History of the Australian Ballot System in the United States The secret ballot is a voting method in which a voters choices are confidential. ... Absolute majority is a supermajoritarian voting requirement which is stricter than a simple majority. ...


If only one candidate is nominated, then no ballot is held, and the House proceeds directly to the motion to appoint the candidate to the Speakership. A similar procedure is used if a Speaker seeks a further term after a General Election: no ballot is held, and the House immediately votes on a motion to re-elect the Speaker. If the motion to re-elect the Speaker fails, candidates are nominated, and the House proceeds with voting (as described above).


Upon the passage of the motion, the Speaker-elect is expected to show reluctance at being chosen; he or she is customarily "dragged" by colleagues to the Chair. This custom is a relic of the era when the Speaker, as representative of the Commons, could have been required to bear bad news to the Sovereign.


The Speaker-elect must receive the Sovereign's approval, or the "approbation," before he or she may take office. On the day of the election, the Speaker-elect leads the Commons to the Chamber of the House of Lords, where Lords Commissioners appointed by the Crown confirm him or her in the monarch's name. Thereafter, the Speaker symbolically requests "in the name and on behalf of the Commons of the United Kingdom, to lay claim, by humble petition to Her Majesty, to all their ancient and undoubted rights and privileges, especially to freedom of speech in debate, to freedom from arrest, and to free access to Her Majesty whenever occasion shall require." After the Lords Commissioners, on the behalf of the Sovereign, confirm the Commons' rights and privileges, the Commons return to their Chamber. If a Speaker is chosen in the middle of a Parliament due to a vacancy in the office, he or she must receive the royal approbation as described above, but does not again lay claim to the Commons' rights and privileges. The Lords Commissioners are Privy Counsellors appointed by the Monarch of the United Kingdom to exercise, on his or her behalf, certain functions relating to Parliament, including the opening and closing of Parliament, the confirmation of a newly elected Speaker of the House of Commons and the granting of Royal...


New Speakers are normally from the opposite party to the previous incumbent. After election, however, the Speaker ceases to be associated with his or her former party. Michael Martin was the second consecutive ex-Labour Speaker, breaking a pattern of alternation between Labour and Conservative members which was established as a constitutional convention. A constitutional convention is an informal and uncodified procedural agreement that is followed by the institutions of a state. ...


At a general election (if the current Speaker contests that election) all major opposition parties do not contest the Speaker's seat and the Speaker is usually described as such; however since the election of Michael Martin (Lab, Glasgow, Springburn and then Glasgow North East), the SNP has not bowed to this convention and have contested the seat. Recent Elections where the Speaker was elected as the Speaker were:


1997: West Bromwich West (Betty Boothroyd)
Speaker 23,969 (65%) Labour, Time for Change 8,546 (23.28%) National Democrats 4,181 (11.39%)
2001: Glasgow, Springburn (Michael Martin)
Speaker 16,053 (67%) SNP 4,675 (19%) SSP 1,879 (8%) Scottish Unionist 1,289 (5%) Independent 208 (1%)
2005: Glasgow North East (Michael Martin)
Speaker 15,153 (53%) SNP 5,019 (18%) Socialist Labour 4,036 (14%) SSP 1,402 (5%) Scottish Unionist 1,266 (4%) BNP 920 (3%) Independent 622 (2%)


Notable elections

William Court Gully
William Court Gully

Though the election of a Speaker is normally non-partisan, there have been several controversial elections in history. For example, in 1895, the sudden retirement of Arthur Peel came at a time when partisan feelings were running high. The Conservatives and Liberal Unionists put forward Sir Matthew White Ridley, a well-respected MP who had many years of experience, and hoped for a unanimous election as the previous Speaker had been a Liberal. However, the Liberals decided to oppose him and nominated William Court Gully who had been an MP for only nine years and had been a relatively quiet presence. On a party-line vote Gully was chosen by 285 to 274. Although Gully proved his impartiality to the satisfaction of most of his opponents, and was unanimously re-elected after the 1895 general election, the episode left many Unionists bitter. During that year's general election Gully became one of the few Speakers to be opposed in his own constituency, a sign of the bitterness of the time. It was not until the mid-1930s that it became common for a Speaker to face some form of opposition for re-election. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (888x559, 116 KB) Summary William Court Gully, Speaker of the British House of Commons, pictured in the Speakers private apartments. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (888x559, 116 KB) Summary William Court Gully, Speaker of the British House of Commons, pictured in the Speakers private apartments. ... The Right Honourable Arthur Wellesley Peel, 1st Viscount Peel (3 August 1829 - 24 October 1912), Speaker of the British House of Commons 1884-95, was the youngest son of the Conservative Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel, and was named after the Duke of Wellington. ... The Liberal Unionists were a British political party which split away from the Liberals in 1886, and had effectively merged with the Conservatives by the turn of the century, the formal merger being completed in 1912. ... Matthew White Ridley, 1st Viscount Ridley (July 25, 1842) - (November 28, 1904) was a British Conservative politician and statesman. ... William Court Gully, 1st Viscount Selby (August 29, 1835 - November 6, 1909), Speaker of the British House of Commons, was the son of Dr James Manby Gully of Malvern. ... The UK general election of 1895 was held from 13th July - 7th August 1895. ...


The 1951 election was similarly controversial. After the incumbent Speaker, Douglas Clifton Brown, retired at the 1951 general election, there was a great demand from the Labour Party for Major James Milner to become the first Labour Speaker after he had served as Deputy Speaker for eight years. However, the Conservatives (who had just regained power) nominated William Shepherd Morrison against him. The vote again went down party lines, and Morrison was elected. Milner received a Peerage as compensation. Douglas Clifton Brown (16 August 1879 - 5 May 1958) was a British politician, and later was created Viscount Ruffside. ... The 1951 election was held soon after the UK general election, 1950, which Labour won, but with an unworkable majority. ... Major James Milner, 1st Baron Milner of Leeds, MC, PC (12 August 1889-16 July 1967) was a British Labour politician. ... Lord Dunrossil William Shepherd Morrison, 1st Viscount Dunrossil (8 October 1893 - 3 February 1961), 14th Governor-General of Australia, was born in Scotland and educated at Edinburgh University. ... The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view. ...


In 1971, having had early warning that Horace King would be retiring, the Conservatives took the lead in offering to the Labour Party either Selwyn Lloyd or John Boyd-Carpenter as potential Speakers. The Labour Party chose Selwyn Lloyd partly because he was perceived as a weak figure. However, when the House of Commons debated the new Speaker, Conservative MP Robin Maxwell-Hyslop and Labour MP Willie Hamilton nominated Geoffrey de Freitas, a senior and respected backbench Labour MP. De Freitas was taken aback by the sudden nomination and urged the House not to support him (a genuine feeling, unlike the feigned reluctance which all Speakers traditionally show). Lloyd was elected but there was a feeling among all parties that the system of election needed to be overhauled. Now, a candidate's consent is required before he or she can be nominated. Dr. Horace Maybray King, (May 25, 1901 – September 3, 1986), was a British politician who served as a Labour MP from 1950 until 1970 before becoming a life peer. ... John Selwyn Brooke Lloyd, Baron Selwyn-Lloyd (28 July 1904 - 18 May 1978), known for most of his career as Selwyn Lloyd, was a British Conservative politician. ... John Archibald Boyd-Carpenter, Baron Boyd-Carpenter PC (2 June 1908 - 11 July 1998) was a British Conservative politician. ... Sir Robin John Maxwell-Hyslop (born 6 June 1931) is a Conservative Party (UK) politician. ... Other persons have been called William Hamilton Willie Hamilton (died 26 January 2000) was a Scottish anti-monarchist Labour Member of Parliament in Fife. ... Sir Geoffrey Stanley de Freitas (7 April 1913 - 10 August 1982) was a British politician and diplomat. ...


The last two instances of the election of a new Speaker (1992 and 2000) have both been relatively controversial. Bernard Weatherill had announced his impending retirement a long time before the 1992 general election, leading to a long but suppressed campaign for support. Betty Boothroyd, a Labour MP who had been Deputy Speaker, was known to be extremely interested in becoming the first woman Speaker (and in doing so, finished the chances of fellow Labour MP Harold Walker who had also been Deputy Speaker). The Conservative former Cabinet member Peter Brooke was put forward at a late stage as a candidate. Unlike previous elections, there was an active campaign among Conservative MPs to support Boothroyd and about seventy Members of Parliament did so, ensuring her election. The Right Honourable Bruce Bernard Weatherill, Baron Weatherill, PC, DL, born 25 November 1920 in Guildford, Surrey to Bernard Bruce Weatherill (1883 - 1962) and Annie Gertrude Weatherill (nee Creak) (1886 - 1966) is a politician in the United Kingdom. ... The UK general election, 1992 was held on April 9, 1992, and was the fourth victory in a row for the Conservatives. ... Rt. ... Sir Harold Walker, Baron Walker of Doncaster, PC DL (1927 in Audenshaw–11 November 2003) was an English Labour politician. ... The Right Honourable Peter Leonard Brooke, Baron Brooke of Sutton Mandeville, PC (born March 3, 1934), is a British politician, a former Conservative Cabinet member, and former member of Parliament for the constituency of Cities of London & Westminster. He is the son of Henry Brooke, Baron Brooke of Cumnor, a...


Betty Boothroyd announced her retirement shortly before the summer recess in 2000, which left a long time for would-be Speakers to declare their candidature but little opportunity for Members of Parliament to negotiate and decide on who should be chosen. Many backbench Labour MPs, especially from Scotland, advanced the claims of Michael Martin as a long-serving Deputy Speaker. Most Conservatives felt strongly that the recent alternation between the main parties ought to be maintained and a Conservative Speaker chosen. The most prominent Conservative choices were Sir George Young and Deputy Speaker Sir Alan Haselhurst. With several maverick candidates announcing themselves, the total number of Members seeking the Speakership was 14, none of whom would withdraw. A lengthy sitting of the House saw Michael Martin first proposed, then each of the candidates proposed as an amendment which was voted down. In points of order before the debate, many members demanded a secret ballot. Motto: (Latin for No one provokes me with impunity)1 Anthem: Multiple unofficial anthems Capital Edinburgh Largest city Glasgow Official language(s) English, Gaelic, Scots 2 Government Constitutional monarchy  - Queen Queen Elizabeth II  - Prime Minister of the UK Tony Blair MP  - First Minister Jack McConnell MSP Unification    - by Kenneth I... Michael John Martin MP (born 3 July 1945) is the current Speaker of the House of Commons in the United Kingdom. ... The Right Honourable Sir George Samuel Knatchbull Young, 6th Baronet (born July 16, 1941) is an English politician, and Tory Member of Parliament for Hampshire North West. ... The Right Honourable Sir Alan Gordon Barraclough Haselhurst (born June 23, 1937) is the British member of Parliament for Saffron Walden for the Conservative Party. ...


Non-partisanship

Upon election, the Speaker, by convention, breaks all ties with his or her political party, as it is considered essential that the Speaker be seen as an impartial presiding officer. In many cases, individuals have served in ministerial or other political positions before being elected Speaker. For example, Selwyn Lloyd and George Thomas (Speakers during the 1970s and early 1980s) had both previously served as high-ranking Cabinet members, whilst Bernard Weatherill (Speaker from 1983 to 1992) was previously a party whip. John Selwyn Brooke Lloyd, Baron Selwyn-Lloyd (28 July 1904 - 18 May 1978), known for most of his career as Selwyn Lloyd, was a British Conservative politician. ... The Right Honourable Thomas George Thomas, 1st Viscount Tonypandy (29 January 1909 - 22 September 1997) was a British Labour politician. ... The Right Honourable Bruce Bernard Weatherill, Baron Weatherill, PC, DL, born 25 November 1920 in Guildford, Surrey to Bernard Bruce Weatherill (1883 - 1962) and Annie Gertrude Weatherill (nee Creak) (1886 - 1966) is a politician in the United Kingdom. ... In politics, a whip is a member of a political party in a legislature whose task is to ensure that members of the party attend and vote as the party leadership desires. ...


In General Elections, it is customary for the Speaker to stand without party affiliation. Since parties began being listed on ballot papers, the Speaker's affiliation is shown as "Speaker seeking re-election." In the past few decades, the Conservatives have not stood against Speakers seeking re-election, regardless of their previous political affiliation. Labour and the Liberal Democrats have stood against ex-Conservative Speakers, but not against ex-Labour ones. Most recently, in 2001 and 2005, the only major party to oppose the ex-Labour Speaker Michael Martin was the Scottish National Party. In the House, the Speaker does not vote on any motion, except in order to resolve ties. After leaving office, the Speaker normally takes no part in party politics; if elevated to the House of Lords, he or she would normally sit as a Cross-bencher. A political party is an organization that seeks to attain political power within a government, usually by participating in electoral campaigns. ... The Scottish National Party (SNP) (Scottish Gaelic: is a centre-left political party which campaigns for Scottish independence. ... This article is about the British House of Lords. ... A cross-bencher is a member of the British House of Lords who is not aligned to any particular party. ...


It has often been suggested that the Speaker's constituents may feel disenfranchised, for their parliamentary representative takes no part in partisan politics and does not vote in the House although still empowered to intercede on behalf of their constituents, as are other MPs. Thus, proposals have been made to create a separate constituency for the Speaker, called "St Stephen's" or "Palace of Westminster," making the Speaker a Member representing Parliament itself. Such ideas, however, have yet to bear fruit.


Presiding officer

On important ceremonial occasions, the Speaker wears black and gold robes. On less formal occasions, the Speaker wears plain black robes.
On important ceremonial occasions, the Speaker wears black and gold robes. On less formal occasions, the Speaker wears plain black robes.

The Speaker's primary function is to preside over the House of Commons. Whilst "in the Chair" (that is, presiding), the Speaker wears a uniform consisting of a black court suit and black robe with a train. On important ceremonial occasions, the black robe is replaced with a long black and gold robe with lace frills and lace jabot. Formerly, the Speaker also wore a full-bottomed wig when presiding and on other occasions; in 1992, however, Betty Boothroyd decided to end this practice. Her successor, Michael Martin MP, also eschewed the wig; moreover, he chose to simplify other aspects of the uniform, doing away with the once customary buckled court shoes and silk stockings. Image File history File links From [1]. The House of Commons Information Office has made available a small number of copyright-free images on the Parliament website. ... Image File history File links From [1]. The House of Commons Information Office has made available a small number of copyright-free images on the Parliament website. ...


Whilst presiding, the Speaker sits at a chair in the front of the House. Traditionally, members of the Government sit on his right, and those of the Opposition on his left. The Speaker's powers are extensive, and are much more extensive than those of his or her Lords counterpart, the Lord Speaker. Most importantly, the Speaker calls on members to speak; no member may make a speech without the Speaker's prior permission. By custom, the Speaker alternates between members of the Government and of the Opposition. Members direct their speeches not to the whole House, but to the Speaker, using the words "Mister Speaker" or "Madam Speaker." Members must refer to each other in the third person; they may not directly address anyone other than the Speaker. In order to maintain his impartiality, the Speaker never makes any speeches. This article is about the British House of Lords. ... The Lord Speaker (or Lady Speaker) will be a new position in the British Parliament created once the Constitutional Reform Acts provisions about the Speakership of the House of Lords comes into effect. ...


During debate, the Speaker is responsible for maintaining discipline and order. He or she rules on all points of order (objections made by members asserting that a rule of the House has been broken); the decisions may not be appealed. The Speaker bases decisions on the rules of the House and on precedent; if necessary, he or she may consult with the Parliamentary Clerks before issuing a ruling. In addition, the Speaker has other powers that he may use to maintain orderly debate. Usually, the Speaker attempts to end a disruption, or "calls members to order," by repeating "Order! Order!" If members do not follow his or her instructions, the Speaker may punish them by demanding that they leave the House for the remainder of the day's sitting. For grave disobedience, the Speaker may "name" a member, by saying "I name [Mr X]." (deliberately breaching the convention that members are only referred to by reference to their constituency, "The [Right] Honourable Member for [Y]"). The House may then vote to suspend the member "named" by the Speaker. In case of "grave disorder," the Speaker may immediately adjourn the entire sitting.


In addition to maintaining discipline, the Speaker must ensure that debate proceeds smoothly. If the Speaker finds that a member is making irrelevant remarks, is tediously repetitive, or is otherwise attempting to delay proceedings, he or she may order the member to end the speech. The present Speaker, Michael Martin, has been especially active in this regard; in May 2004, for example, he rebuked the Prime Minister (Tony Blair) for answering a question on his policies by attacking those of the Opposition. Furthermore, before debate begins, the Speaker may invoke the "Short Speech" rule, under which he or she may set a time limit (at least eight minutes) which will apply to every speech. At the same time, however, the Speaker is charged with protecting the interests of the minority by ensuring sufficient debate before a vote. Thus, the Speaker may disallow a closure, which seeks to end debate and immediately put the question to a vote, if he or she finds that the motion constitutes an abuse of the rules or breaches the rights of the minority. A prime minister is the most senior minister of a cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. ... For other people of the same name, see Tony Blair (disambiguation) Anthony Charles Lynton Blair (born 6 May 1953)[1] is the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, Leader of the UK Labour Party, and Member of the UK Parliament... In parliamentary procedure, cloture (pr: KLO-cher) (also called closure, and sometimes a guillotine) is a motion or process aimed at bringing debate to a quick end. ...


Before the House votes on any issue, the Speaker "puts the question"; that is, he or she verbally states the motion on which the members are to vote. He or she then assesses the result of a voice vote, but any member may demand a division (a recorded vote). The Speaker may overrule a request for a division and maintain the original ruling; this power, however, is used only rarely, usually when members make frivolous requests for divisions in order to delay proceedings. It has been suggested that Division of the house be merged into this article or section. ...


The Speaker does not vote in the division, except when the Ayes and Noes are tied, in which case he or she must use the casting vote. In exercising the casting vote, the Speaker may theoretically vote as he or she pleases, but, in practice, always votes in accordance with certain unwritten conventions. Firstly, the Speaker votes to give the House further opportunity to debate a bill or motion before reaching a final decision. (For example, the Speaker would be obliged to vote against a closure motion.) Secondly, any final decision should be approved by the majority. (Thus, for instance, the Speaker would vote against the final passage of a bill.) Finally, the Speaker should vote to leave a bill or motion in its existing form; in other words, the Speaker would vote against an amendment. A casting vote is a vote given to the presiding officer of a council or legislative body in order to resolve a deadlock. ...


Since the House of Commons is a very large body (with over 600 members), Speakers are rarely called upon to use the casting vote. Since 1801, there have been only forty-nine instances of tied divisions. The last true tied vote was in 1980, when the House divided 201-201 on a motion to grant leave to bring the Televising of Parliament Bill (the Speaker voted Aye). There was believed to be a 317-317 vote on an amendment to a motion concerning the Maastricht Treaty in 1993, but it was quickly discovered that one extra "Aye" vote had been erroneously counted. The Maastricht Treaty (formally, the Treaty on European Union) was signed on 7 February 1992 in Maastricht between the members of the European Community and entered into force on 1 November 1993, under the Delors Commission. ...


Other functions

In addition to his role as presiding officer, the Speaker performs several other functions on the behalf of the House of Commons. He or she represents the body in relations with the Sovereign, the House of Lords, and non-parliamentary bodies. On important occasions of state (such as Queen Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee in 2002), the Speaker presents Addresses to the Crown on behalf of the House. Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor; born 21 April 1926) is Queen of sixteen sovereign states, holding each crown and title equally. ... A Golden Jubilee is a celebration held to mark a 50th anniversary of a monarchs reign. ...


The Speaker performs various procedural functions. He or she may recall the House from recess during a national emergency, or when otherwise requested by the Government. When vacancies arise, the Speaker authorises the issuance of writs of election. Furthermore, the Speaker is responsible for certifying bills that relate solely to national taxation as "money bills" under the Parliament Acts. The House of Lords has no power to block or substantially delay a money bill; even if the Lords fail to pass the bill, it becomes law within a month of passage by the Commons. The Speaker's decision on the matter is final, and cannot be challenged by the Upper House. A writ of election is a writ issued by the government ordering the holding of a special election for a governmental office. ... A money bill is a bill that solely concerns taxation or government spending, as opposed to changes in public law. ... In the United Kingdom, Parliament Act refers to each of two Acts of Parliament, passed in 1911 and 1949 respectively. ... A money bill is a bill that solely concerns taxation or government spending, as opposed to changes in public law. ...


The Speaker is also responsible for overseeing the administration of the House. He or she chairs the House of Commons Commission, a body that appoints staff, determines their salaries, and supervises the general administration of those who serve the House. Furthermore, the Speaker controls the parts of the Palace of Westminster used by the House of Commons. Also, the Speaker is the ex officio Chairman of the four Boundary Commissions (for England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland), which are charged with redrawing the boundaries of parliamentary constituencies to reflect population changes. However, the Speaker normally does not attend meetings of the Boundary Commissions; instead, the Deputy Chairman of the Commission (usually a judge) normally presides. The Palace of Westminster, also known as the Houses of Parliament or Westminster Palace, in London, England is where the two Houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom (the House of Lords and the House of Commons) meet to conduct their business. ... In the United Kingdom, the four Boundary Commissions are responsible for determining the boundaries of House of Commons constituencies. ... Motto: (French for God and my right) Anthem: God Save the King/Queen Capital London Largest city London Official language(s) English (de facto) Unification    - by Athelstan AD 927  Area    - Total 130,395 km² (1st in UK)   50,346 sq mi  Population    - 2005 est. ... Motto: (Welsh for Wales forever) Anthem: Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau Capital Cardiff Largest city Cardiff Official language(s) Welsh, English Government Constitutional monarchy  - Queen Queen Elizabeth II  - Prime Minister of the UK Tony Blair MP  - First Minister Rhodri Morgan AM Unification    - by Gruffudd ap Llywelyn 1056  Area    - Total 20,779... Motto: (Latin for No one provokes me with impunity)1 Anthem: Multiple unofficial anthems Capital Edinburgh Largest city Glasgow Official language(s) English, Gaelic, Scots 2 Government Constitutional monarchy  - Queen Queen Elizabeth II  - Prime Minister of the UK Tony Blair MP  - First Minister Jack McConnell MSP Unification    - by Kenneth I... Motto: [citation needed] (French for God and my right)2 Anthem: UK: God Save the Queen Regional: (de facto) Londonderry Air Capital Belfast Largest city Belfast Official language(s) English (de facto), Irish, Ulster Scots 3, NI Sign Language Government Constitutional monarchy  - Queen Queen Elizabeth II  - Prime Minister Tony Blair...


Finally, the Speaker continues to represent his or her constituency in Parliament. Like any other Member of Parliament, he or she responds to letters from constituents and attempts to address their concerns.


Deputies

The Speaker is assisted by three deputies, all of whom are elected by the House. The most senior deputy is known as the Chairman of Ways and Means; the title derives from the now defunct Ways and Means Committee which formerly considered taxation-related bills. The remaining deputies are known as the First Deputy and Second Deputy Chairmen of Ways and Means. Typically, the Speaker presides for only three hours each day; for the remainder of the time, one of the deputies takes the Chair. Moreover, the Speaker never presides over the Committee of the Whole House, which, as its name suggests, consists of all the members, but operates under more flexible rules of debate. (This device was used so that members could debate independently of the Speaker, whom they suspected acted as an agent or spy of the monarch. Now, the procedure is used to take advantage of the more flexible rules of debate.) In the English Parliament between 1641 and 1967, proposals for raising taxation originated in the Committee of Ways and Means, where they were initiated by a Government minister. ... In the United Kingdom House of Commons, the Committee of the Whole House is used instead of a standing committee for the clause-by-clause debate of important or contentious bills. ...


Deputies have the same powers as the Speaker when presiding. Akin to the Speaker, they do not take part in partisan politics, and remain completely impartial in the House. However, they are entitled to take part in constituency politics, and to make their views known on these matters. In General Elections, they stand as party politicians. If a Deputy Speaker is presiding, then he or she holds the casting vote instead of the Speaker.


Precedence and privileges

The Speaker is one of the highest-ranking officials in the United Kingdom. By an Order-in-Council issued in 1919, the Speaker ranks in the order of precedence above all non-royal individuals except the two archbishops of the Church of England, the Prime Minister, the Lord Chancellor, and the Lord President of the Council. An Order-in-Council is an executive order issued in Commonwealth Realms operating under the Westminster system. ... The Order of precedence in England and Wales as of 29 October 2004: Names in italics indicate higher precedence elsewhere in the table: e. ... In Christianity, an archbishop is an elevated bishop. ... The Church of England is the officially established Christian church[1] in England, and acts as the mother and senior branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion, as well as a founding member of the Porvoo Communion. ... The Office of Lord President of the Council is a British cabinet position, the holder of which acts as presiding officer of the Privy Council. ...


As of 2005, the Speaker receives a salary of £72,862, in addition to his or her salary as a Member of Parliament. The Speaker's salary is equal to that of a Cabinet Minister. The Speaker is also provided with official apartments in the Palace of Westminster, the home of both Houses of Parliament. Each day, prior to the sitting of the House of Commons, the Speaker and other officials travel in procession from the apartments to the Chamber. The procession includes the Doorkeeper, the Serjeant-at-Arms, the Speaker, a trainbearer, the Chaplain, and the Speaker's Private Secretary. The Serjeant-at-Arms attends the Speaker on other occasions, and in the House; he bears a ceremonial mace that symbolises the royal authority under which the House meets, as well as the authority of the House of Commons itself. 2005 is a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ... ISO 4217 Code GBP User(s) United Kingdom Inflation 2. ... A doorman (more commonly referred to as a bouncer) is a term for a person who deals with the general security of a bar, pub or nightclub. ... A Serjeant at Arms (also spelt Sergeant at Arms, and sometimes Serjeant-at-Arms) is an officer appointed by a deliberative body, usually a legislature, to keep order during its meetings. ... This article needs cleanup. ...


Customarily, Speakers are appointed to the Privy Council upon election. Thus, the present and former Speakers are entitled to the style "The Right Honourable." Upon retirement, Speakers were traditionally elevated to the House of Lords as viscounts. The last Speaker to receive a viscountcy was George Thomas, who became Viscount Tonypandy upon his retirement in 1983. Since that year, it has instead been normal to grant only life baronies to retiring Speakers. Her Majestys Most Honourable Privy Council is a body of advisors to the British Sovereign. ... A viscount is a member of the European nobility whose comital title ranks usually, as in the British peerage, above a baron, below an earl (in Britain) or a count (his continental equivalent). ... The Right Honourable Thomas George Thomas, 1st Viscount Tonypandy (29 January 1909 - 22 September 1997) was a British Labour politician. ...


Current Speaker & Deputy Speakers

  • Speaker of the House of Commons: The Right Hon. Michael Martin
  • Chairman, Ways and Means (Deputy Speaker): The Right Hon. Sir Alan Haselhurst
  • First Deputy Chairman, Ways and Means (Deputy Speaker): The Right Hon. Sylvia Heal
  • Second Deputy Chairman, Ways and Means (Deputy Speaker): The Right Hon. Sir Michael Lord

Michael John Martin MP (born 3 July 1945) is the current Speaker of the House of Commons in the United Kingdom. ... The Right Honourable Sir Alan Gordon Barraclough Haselhurst (born June 23, 1937) is the British member of Parliament for Saffron Walden for the Conservative Party. ... Sylvia Lloyd Heal (born 20 July 1942) is a British politician. ... Sir Michael Nicholson Lord (born October 17, 1938, Manchester) is a British politician, and Conservative Member of Parliament for Suffolk Central and Ipswich North since 1997. ...

References

  • Boothroyd, David. (2004). "House of Commons: Tied Divisions."
  • Dasent, Arthur Irwin. (1911). The Speakers of the House of Commons. London: John Lane.
  • House of Commons Information Office. (2001). "Disciplinary and Penal Powers of the House."
  • House of Commons Information Office. (2003). "The Speaker."
  • McKay, Sir William. (2004). Erskine May: Parliamentary Practice, 23rd ed. London: Butterworths Tolley.

See also

It has been suggested that Speakers of the House be merged into this article or section. ... 1376 Sir Peter de la Mare 1377 Sir Thomas Hungerford 1377 Sir Peter de la Mare 1378 - 1378 Sir James Pickering 1379 - 1380 Sir John Guildesborough 1381 - 1382 Sir Richard Waldegrave 1382 - 1383 Sir James Pickering 1383 - 1393 unknown 1393 - 1398 Sir John Bussy 1398 none 1399 Sir John Cheney... The Presiding Officer (Oifigear-Riaghlaidh in Scots Gaelic) is the Speaker, the person elected by the Members of the Scottish Parliament to chair their meetings. ... The Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales performs a similar function to that of the Presiding Officer in the Scottish Parliament, ie. ...

External links

  • The Speaker of the House of Commons (from http://www.parliament.uk)
  • Guide to government (from http://www.direct.gov.uk)

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