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Father of the House: House of Commons Background Paper

Published Tuesday, December 17, 2019

This House of Commons Library Briefing Paper discusses the title, role and history of the Father of the House - the senior Member of the House, who has the longest unbroken service in the Commons.

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The Father of the House is a title that is by tradition bestowed on the senior Member of the House, which is nowadays held to be the Member who has the longest unbroken service in the Commons.

The Father of the House in the current (2019) Parliament is Sir Peter Bottomley, who was first elected to the House in a by-election in 1975.

Under Standing Order No 1, as long as the Father of the House is not a Minister, he takes the Chair when the House elects a Speaker.

He has no other formal duties.

There is evidence of the title having been used in the 18th century. However, the origin of the term is not clear and it is likely that different qualifications were used in the past.

The Father of the House is not necessarily the oldest Member. However, the title of ‘Baby of the House’ is held by the youngest Member: Nadia Whittome in the 2019 Parliament.

 

Commons Briefing papers SN06399

Authors: Richard Kelly; Sarah Priddy

Topics: Members of Parliament, Parliament, Parliamentary procedure

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