Role and responsibilities of the Clerk of the Parliaments

Although the Clerk and his staff play an indispensable role in the administration of the House of Lords, it is usually work that disappears into the background.

David Beamish, the former Clerk, has said,

"We succeed when nobody notices us. Our job is to oil the wheels to enable the House to play its part."

The rare exceptions to this general invisibility include when the Clerk reads out the names of Bills passed by Parliament during the Prorogation ceremony, or when the Clerk introduces a famous new Peer to the chamber.

Like all officers and staff in both Houses, the Clerk and his deputies are politically impartial.

The main roles and responsibilities of the Clerk today include:

  • Chief Executive
  • Accounting Officer (responsible for the proper expenditure of taxpayers' money)
  • Chairman of the Management Board which oversees the running of the House
  • Corporate Officer
  • the employer of the House of Lords' staff
  • Registrar of the Court for the Lords in its judicial capacity, and
  • responsible for the text of Acts of Parliament

The roles of the two senior Clerks in each House are thus similar but not identical.

Related information

Main information page about the Clerk of the Parliaments on the House of Lords website, including a list of incumbents:

Clerk of the Parliaments’ Office, nerve-centre for House of Lords senior administration:

View the Clerk of the Parliaments Act 1824, which continues to apply today: 

Interviews

Video interview with the former Clerk of the Parliaments, David Beamish:

Transcript interview with former Clerk of the Parliaments, Sir Paul Hayter: