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Speakers of the House of Commons and Chairmen and Deputy Chairmen of Ways and Means

Published Friday, August 21, 2015

A list of all known Speakers and Deputies from 1258 to present day

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Speaker of the House of Commons

The Speaker of the House of Commons chairs debates in the Commons chamber. The holder of this office is an MP who has been elected to be Speaker by other Members of Parliament. During debates they keep order and call MPs to speak. The Speaker is the chief officer and highest authority of the House of Commons and must remain politically impartial at all times. The Speaker also represents the Commons to the Monarch, the Lords and other authorities and chairs the House of Commons Commission.

Information on the current office and role of Speaker can be found on the Speaker’s homepage on the Parliament website. 

The Speaker is the chief officer and highest authority of the House of Commons and is politically impartial. The office of Speaker dates back to 1377. Before this, equivalent presiding officers were called ‘parlour’ or ‘proclocutor’ and can be traced back to 1258 when Peter de Montfort is said to have presided over the 1258 Oxford Parliament established by Simon de Montfort (no relation). 

Chairman of Ways and Means

The first permanent Chairman of Ways and Means was appointed in 1689 but not until 1855 were the duties and authority of the Speaker conferred on the role of Chairman to allow for the Speaker’s absence. A Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means was appointed in 1902 and a Second Deputy in 1971. 

The Deputy Speaker (Chairman of Ways and Means) and the two Deputy Chairmen of Ways and Means are now elected by the House of Commons. Once elected, they withdraw from an active political role. 

Elections

Elections of the Speaker, Deputy Speaker and the two Deputy Chairmen of Ways and Means) are regulated by Standing Orders of the House of Commons, SO Nos. 1-4. Background information is given in Commons briefings on The election of a Speaker and The election of Deputy Speakers.

Commons Briefing papers SN04637

Author: Sarah Priddy

Topics: House of Commons, Parliament, Speaker

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