The Lord Speaker is elected for a period of five years and has many roles including ceremonial, ambassadorial and outreach.
Lord Speaker's duties
In addition to the presiding officer role, the Lord Speaker has ceremonial duties within the House, for example, at the State Opening of Parliament, and when visiting Heads of State address the Houses of Parliament.
She also has an ambassadorial role receiving and visiting speakers of overseas parliaments and participating in speakers’ conferences. The incumbent also chairs the House Committee, the main supervisory body for the House of Lords Administration, with responsibility for financial matters.
The Lord Speaker conducts outreach activities to engage the public in the work of the Lords, including the Peers in Schools programme which is aimed at young people.
Election of the Lord Speaker
The Lord Speaker is elected by Members of the House of Lords for a period of five years, renewable once. The first election took place on 4 July 2006 when Baroness Hayman took office. Baroness D’Souza is the current Lord Speaker. She was elected in July 2011.
Upon election, the successful Lord becomes unaffiliated from any party or group within the House and is not expected to vote, even in the event of a tie (as the House of Lords has rules set out for resolving an equality of votes).
Deputy Speakers assist the Lord Speaker and also sit on the Woolsack in the Lord Speaker’s absence. They are all Members of the Lords and may continue to engage in party politics while serving as deputies.