From SkepticalVoter
Jump to: navigation, search

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 present Speaker is John Bercow, who was elected on 22 June 2009, following the resignation of Michael Martin.

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 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), although the Speaker is still able to speak. 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). The Speaker has the right and obligation to reside in the Parliamentary estate, near to Big Ben. [1]


* Deputy Speakers: Alan Haselhurst, Sylvia Heal, Michael Lord

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. During the annual Budget, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer reads out the government's spending proposal, the Chairman of Ways and Means, rather than the Speaker, presides. 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.)

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.