The Clerk of the House is the principal constitutional adviser to the House, and adviser on all its procedure and business, including Parliamentary privilege, and frequently appears before Select and Joint Committees examining constitutional and Parliamentary matters. As with all the members of the House Service, he is politically entirely impartial and is not a civil servant.
Clerk of the House
The Clerk of the House sits at the Table of the House, in the right-hand chair (the left-hand chair, looking towards the Speaker’s Chair) for part of every sitting. The historic role of the Clerks at the Table is to record the decisions of the House (not what is said, which is recorded by Hansard), and this they (but not the Clerk) still do. The Clerks at the Table are consulted by the Chair, Ministers, Whips, and Members generally, on any matter that may arise in the conduct of a sitting.
The Clerks at the Table wear Court dress with wing collar and white tie, a “bob” (barrister’s) wig and a silk gown. For the State Opening of Parliament and other State occasions, the Clerk of the House wears full Court dress with breeches, and a lace jabot and cuffs.
The Clerk of the House is also the Chief Executive of the House of Commons Service of some 2,000 people, and chairs the Management Board, consisting of six executive Heads of Department and two external non-executive members. Under the overall direction of the House of Commons Commission, the Board is responsible for the services that support the work of the House and its Members.
As Clerk he is, under the Parliamentary Corporate Bodies Act 1992, the Corporate Officer of the House, enters into contracts and leases, and holds all the House’s property (in which role he is, for example, the legal owner of Big Ben!). As Accounting Officer for the House of Commons: Administration Estimate he has personal responsibility for the propriety and regularity of the expenditure of public money.