Procedure Committee report: Election of the Speaker and Deputy Speakers

03 February 2010

The election of the new Speaker in June 2009 was the first to be held under new rules recommended by the Procedure Committee in 2001. The Committee has reviewed the new procedure and is satisfied that it provided fairness and transparency: the secret ballot was a particular success.

The Committee's report recommends some improvements, including a reduction in voting time to speed up the process, increasing the number of sponsors to 15, and publishing their names. It also welcomes hustings run by outside organisations.

The report sets out a detailed procedure for electing Deputy Speakers. This reflects the the rules for electing the Speaker, and is based on the existing convention that the four occupants of the Chair should be drawn equally from Government and Opposition, and there should be at least one man and at least one woman on the team. The Committee recommends that there should be a secret ballot, a minimum number of sponsors and publication of their names, and no hustings or speeches in the Chamber. The Ballot should be conducted using the Single Transferable Vote system.

The Committee also proposes that the Deputy Speakers should be elected for the duration of a Parliament, with terms of office running independently of that of Speaker: a change of Speaker should not necessarily mean a change of Deputy Speakers.

Finally, the Speaker is elected by secret ballot, but if he decides to stand again following a General Election, a different procedure applies. The Committee believes that the House should be given the opportunity to decide whether this decision should be made by division – as it is at present – or by secret ballot.

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