Clerk of the House
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.
He 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.
The present Clerk
Sir Robert Rogers became Clerk of the House on 1st October 2011. He joined the service of the House in 1972, and has been involved in every aspect of the House’s work during his career, including postings as Clerk of Private Members’ Bills, Clerk of the Defence Committee, Clerk of the European Legislation Committee, Secretary of the House of Commons Commission, Clerk of Select Committees, Principal Clerk of the Table Office, Clerk of the Journals, and Clerk of Legislation. He was Clerk Assistant and Director General, Chamber and Committee Services, from 2009 to 2011. He was knighted in 2012.
Sir Robert was educated at Tonbridge School and Lincoln College, Oxford, where he read Old Norse, mediaeval Welsh and Anglo-Saxon, and played cricket, hockey and real tennis for university teams. He was a Rhodes Research Scholar in 1971 and worked briefly at the Ministry of Defence before joining the House.
Away from the House he is a Liveryman of the Skinners’ Company; and has been independent Chair of standards committees in local government, a police authority and a fire and rescue authority. He was Chairman of the Hereford Cathedral Perpetual Trust and a member of the Cathedral Council, 2007-09. He was elected to an Honorary Fellowship of Lincoln College, Oxford in 2012, and as an Honorary Bencher of the Middle Temple in 2013.
He is the joint author of the standard textbook How Parliament Works, about to go into its 7th edition, and author of two Parliamentary miscellanies: Order! Order! (2010) and Who Goes Home? (2012).
He is married to the Revd Jane, and they have two grown-up daughters, Catherine, a solicitor, and Eleanor, who works in public health research.
Sir Robert’s recreations are sailing, shooting, cricket, music (he is a church organist) and the countryside.