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Speaker of the House of Lords
UKHOL logo.png
The Crowned Portcullis
Incumbent
Baroness Hayman

since 4 July 2006
Style The Right Honourable
Appointer House of Lords
Term length Elected at start of each Parliament (maximum length of which is 5 years)
Inaugural holder Baroness Hayman
Formation 4 July 2006
United Kingdom
Coat of Arms of the UK Government

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The Lord Speaker is the speaker of the House of Lords in the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The office is analogous to the Speaker of the House of Commons: the Lord Speaker is "appointed" by the members of the House of Lords and is expected to be politically impartial. It was announced on 4 July 2006 that Baroness Hayman had won the first election for the position.

Until July 2006, the role of presiding officer in the House of Lords was undertaken by the Lord Chancellor. Under the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, the position of the Speaker of the House of Lords (as it is termed in the Act) became a separate office, allowing the position to be held by someone other than the Lord Chancellor. The Lord Chancellor continued to act as speaker of the House of Lords in an interim period after the Act was passed, while the House of Lords considered new arrangements about their speakership.

The separation of the Lord Chancellor's various roles is in line with Labour's manifesto commitments to reform the House of Lords. This changing role is also designed to avoid challenges under the Human Rights Act, which might arise from his roles as head of the judiciary and also a Cabinet Minister.

Contents

Functions

The main functions of the Lord Speaker are to take the chair in debates held in the chamber of the House of Lords, to advise the House of Lords on procedural rules, to take formal responsibility for security in the areas of the Palace of Westminster occupied by the House of Lords and its members, to speak for the House of Lords on ceremonial occasions, and to represent the House of Lords as its ambassador in the UK and overseas.[1]

The role is similar to that of the Speaker of the House of Commons. However, the House of Lords is largely self-governing, and the presiding officer in the House of Lords has traditionally taken a less active role in debates than the speaker in the House of Commons. For example, unlike the Speaker of the House of Commons, the Lord Speaker does not call the House to order, nor determine who is to speak when two individuals rise at the same time, nor rule on points of order, nor discipline members who violate the rules of the House, nor select amendments to bills—all these functions are performed by the House of Lords as a whole. Furthermore, whilst speeches in the House of Commons are addressed directly to the Speaker, those in the House of Lords are addressed to the House as a whole.

The Lord Speaker has assumed most of the duties that the Lord Chancellor used to have in relation to his Parliamentary role; however, the Lord Chancellor continues to hand the speech to the Queen during the State Opening of Parliament. There was a debate whether the new speaker should have additional powers and responsibilities that the Lord Chancellor does not have. The role of the Lords Commissioners continues, and the Lord Chancellor continues to be the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal.

The Lord Speaker is elected for a maximum term of five years, and may serve a maximum of two terms. The Lord Speaker earns the same salary as a Cabinet Minister in the House of Lords (£102,685 in 2006), less than the Speaker of the House of Commons. Like the Lord Chancellor, the Lord Speaker will wear court dress with a plain black silk gown while presiding over the House and a black silk damask and gold lace ceremonial gown on state occasions, but unlike the Lord Chancellor, will not wear a wig. When presiding over debates, the Lord Speaker sits on the Woolsack.

Like the Speaker of the House of Commons, but unlike the Lord Chancellor (who was also a judge and a government minister), the Lord Speaker is expected to remain non-partisan whilst in office. On election, the Lord Speaker resigns the party whip (if he or she has one) and certain outside interests to concentrate on being an impartial presiding officer.

By Royal Warrant on 4 July 2006, the Queen declared that the Lord Speaker would have rank and precedence immediately after the Speaker of the House of Commons.

History

In 2003, following the decision to disaggregate the roles performed by the Lord Chancellor (originally to abolish the office altogether), a Select Committee of the House of Lords looked into the proposed new office of its presiding officer, including the title for the elected speaker of the Lords. Following their recommendations, the new speaker was named "Lord Speaker", and the number of deputy speakers has fallen from 25 to 12.[2]

The House of Lords Select Committee, chaired by Lord Lloyd of Berwick, a cross-bencher, was reconvened on 12 July 2005 to decide on the name and the duties of the new speaker, and how the new speaker would be selected.[3] The committee reported to the House of Lords on 19 December 2005, recommending powers, method of election and title of the new Speaker. Despite speculation, it recommended the title "Lord Speaker", noting that it was already in use "in the Standing Orders and the Companion".[4]

A list of nine candidates was announced on 6 June 2006, consisting of: three Conservatives (Lord Elton, Baroness Fookes and Viscount Ullswater), two Labour (Baroness Hayman and Lord Richard), one Liberal Democrat (Lord Redesdale), two Crossbenchers (Lord Boston of Faversham and the Countess of Mar) and one non-affiliated (Lord Grenfell).[5] [6]

The election of the first Lord Speaker, Baroness Hayman, was announced on 4 July 2006.[7][8] and Baroness Hayman immediately replaced the Lord Chancellor on the woolsack. The Lord Chamberlain, Lord Luce, was on hand to confirm the approval of Queen Elizabeth II to the election of Baroness Hayman, although this was a formality.

See also

References

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