Third report of session
2005-06 from the Procedure Committee
SPEAKERSHIP OF THE HOUSE
1. On 12 July 2005 the House resolved "that
this House should elect its own presiding officer; [and] that
a Select Committee on the Speakership of the House be appointed
to consider further how to implement this resolution with full
regard to the House's tradition of self-regulation". On 31
January 2006 the House resolved, "further to the resolution
of the House of 12 July 2005, that the Report of the Select Committee
on the Speakership of the House of Lords (HL Paper 92) be approved;
and that an election be held no later than 30 June 2006."
2. With a view to implementing the report of
the Select Committee, this report makes recommendations in connection
with the election arrangements, changes to Standing Orders, defining
the Speaker's role in the Chamber, and Private Notice Questions.
A further report in May will cover the interests of the Lord Speaker
and other outstanding issues.
3. To govern the election arrangements, we recommend
the following new Standing Order. It is based closely on Standing
Orders 9 and 10, which govern elections and by-elections for hereditary
peers, and in particular on the arrangements for by-elections
for the 15 hereditary peers elected by the whole House, which
have been used twice so far.
ELECTION OF LORD SPEAKER
(1) The first election of the Lord Speaker shall
be held no later than 30th June 2006. Thereafter elections shall
be held (a) no more than five years after the previous election,
or (b) within three months of the death of the Lord Speaker, or
his giving notice of resignation, if sooner. If, after a date
has been set in accordance with (a) or (b), a Dissolution of Parliament
is announced, the applicable deadline shall be extended to one
month after the opening of the next Parliament.
(2) All members of the House shall be entitled to
stand for election and to vote, save that (a) Lords who have not
taken the Oath in the current Parliament, or who are on Leave
of Absence, may not stand or vote and (b) a Lord who has been
successful in two previous elections may not stand. Before they
can stand, candidates shall require a proposer and a seconder,
who must themselves be eligible to stand.
(3) The election shall be conducted in accordance
with arrangements made by the Clerk of the Parliaments. The Clerk
of the Parliaments may refer any question concerning the propriety
of the electoral process to the Committee for Privileges.
(4) In the event of a tie between two or more candidates,
the matter (if not resolved by the electoral arrangements adopted
by the House) shall be decided by the drawing of lots.
(5) The result of the election shall be subject to
the approval of Her Majesty The Queen.
(6) The Chairman of Committees may act during any
vacancy in the office of Speaker.
(7) The Lord Speaker may resign at any time by giving
written notice to the Leader of the House.
(8) If the House passes a motion for an Address to
Her Majesty seeking the Lord Speaker's removal from office, the
Lord Speaker shall be deemed to have resigned.
4. We also recommend the following Code of Conduct
for the election. It is based closely on the Code of Conduct for
the election of hereditary peers in 1999, and for by-elections.
(a) Ballot papers will not indicate any qualification
or reason why a candidate should be elected.
(b) Candidates may not offer hospitality, entertainment
or financial inducements to electors intended to influence their
votes or likely to have that effect.
(c) Candidates may not engage in any activity
intended or likely to discredit other candidates in the election.
(d) Candidates may not solicit votes near the
room where the election is taking place.
(e) If the Clerk of the Parliaments suspects,
on reasonable grounds, that some material irregularity or improper
conduct may have occurred in the electoral process, he may refer
the matter to the Committee for Privileges. The Committee may,
if it thinks fit, recommend the disqualification of a successful
candidate if their election appears to have been influenced by
material irregularity or improper conduct.
(f) In this code of conduct, "candidate"
includes an agent or supporter acting on behalf of the candidate.
5. We recommend the following procedure for the
announcement of the result:
(i) The Lord Chancellor will process in for Prayers
(ii) After Prayers, the Clerk of the Parliaments
will announce the result
(iii) The Lord Chamberlain will signify Her Majesty's
approval from the Despatch Box
(iv) The new Lord Speaker will take over the
Woolsack from the Lord Chancellor
(v) Speeches will be made to mark the occasion
6. We recommend that polling day for the election
should be Wednesday 28 June and that the result should be announced
on Tuesday 4 July.
7. Other aspects of the election process will
be governed by the report of the Select Committee on the Speakership,
to which the House has agreed, and by the arrangements to be made
by the Clerk of the Parliaments, which will be set out in a Lords
Other amendments to Standing Orders
8. We endorse the proposed amendments to existing
Standing Orders in Appendix 4 to the report of the Select Committee
on the Speakership, with the following modifications:
(A) STANDING ORDER 17: RECALL OF THE HOUSE
In Standing Order 17(3), on recall of the House for
judicial business, the words "the Lord Chancellor or, in
his absence" should be deleted. This should be done at the
next opportunity, since the Lord Chancellor will cease to have
a judicial role on 3 April.
(B) STANDING ORDER 63: COMMITTEES OF THE WHOLE HOUSE
The words "Whenever the House resolves itself
into a Committee, the Lord Chancellor leaves the Woolsack and
the Lord Chairman of Committees presides over the Committee"
should not be left out, but should be amended to read "Whenever
the House resolves itself into a Committee, the Lord Speaker leaves
the Woolsack and he or the Lord Chairman of Committees presides
over the Committee from the Chair".
(C) STANDING ORDER 87: APPELLATE AND APPEAL COMMITTEES
In Standing Order 87(4), on the chairmanship of appellate
and appeal committees, the words "by the Lord Chancellor
or, in his absence" should be deleted. This should be done
at the next opportunity, since the Lord Chancellor will cease
to have a judicial role on 3 April.
Defining the Speaker's role in the Chamber
9. The second Select Committee on the Speakership
said in its Report: "The functions we see for the Speaker
at question time (purely formal) and at other times (procedural)
would be clearly set out in the Companion. This would act
as a bar to any tendency on the part of the Speaker to expand
his role. If the functions of the Speaker are clearly and strictly
codified in the Companion, the House will see to it that
the line is nowhere crossed" (paragraph 20). We recommend
the following text for inclusion in Chapter 4 (Rules of Conduct
and Debate) of the Companion. It is derived from the
second Committee's report (paragraphs 11-22) and from Standing
THE ROLE OF THE SPEAKER IN THE CHAMBER
(1) The primary role of the Speaker is to preside
over proceedings in the Chamber, including Committee of the whole
House. The Speaker seeks the leave of the House for any necessary
absence of a full sitting day or more.
(2) The Speaker has no power to act in the House
without the consent of the House.
(3) The role of assisting the House at question time
rests with the Leader of the House, not the Speaker.
(4) At other times of day the Lord on the Woolsack
or in the Chair may assist the House by reminding members of the
relevant parts of the Companion. Such assistance is limited to
procedural advice and is usually given at the start of the business
in hand, for example how time is to be divided between the front
and back benches in response to a statement, the correct procedure
at Report stage, the handling of grouped amendments, and the procedure
to be followed in the case of amendments to amendments. Assistance
may be helpful at other stages when procedural problems arise.
(5) The Government Chief Whip advises the House on
speaking times in debates. Enforcing such time limits is handled
by the front benches rather than the Speaker. Timed debates are
brought to an end (if necessary) by the Speaker on an indication
from the Table.
(6) Interventions, in particular those calling attention
to the failure of an individual Member to comply with the rules,
may come from the front benches or other Members. This would be
the case, for example, when arguments deployed in committee were
repeated at length on report. Such interventions would not normally
come from the Speaker.
(7) The Speaker observes the same formalities as
any other Member of the House. He addresses the House as a whole,
and not an individual Member. He does not intervene when a Member
is on his feet. His function is to assist, and not to rule. The
House does not recognise points of order. Any advice or assistance
given by the Speaker is subject to the view of the House as a
Private Notice Questions
10. The House has decided that the preliminary
decision whether to allow a Private Notice Question will be taken
by the Speaker rather than the Leader of the House. We have reviewed
the Companion guidance on Private Notice Questions in this
context. We recommend minimal change, save only that the following
sentence from paragraph 4.99 - "The decision whether the
question is of sufficient urgency to justify an immediate reply
rests in the first place with the Leader of the House and ultimately
with the general sense of the House" - should in future read
"The decision whether the question is of sufficient urgency
and importance to justify an immediate reply rests in the
first place with the Speaker, after consultation,
and ultimately with the general sense of the House."
1 On 25-26 March 2003 on the death of V. Oxfuird, and
on 22 March 2005 on the death of L. Aberdare. Back