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Frequently Asked Questions: Speaker's Election

When is the Speaker elected?

The House of Commons must elect (or re-elect) its Speaker after every general election, and this is the first thing it does on the first day it meets after an election.

The House must also elect a new Speaker at any other point following the death, retirement or resignation of a Speaker, or if the Speaker ceases to be an MP for any other reason.

The current Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP, was first elected to the role on Monday 4 November 2019 and was re-elected by the House after the 2019 general election, on 17 December 2019.

How is a Speaker elected?

The processes for electing a Speaker are laid down in Standing Orders 1, 1A and 1B.

The House adopted the current system for electing a Speaker on 22 March 2001.

Once assembled after a General Election, MPs, led by the Father of the House, go to the House of Lords where they receive a message from the monarch asking them to elect a Speaker. They return to the House of Commons and begin the process immediately, under the direction of the Father of the House.

If the MP who was Speaker before the general election is returned at the election and wishes to stand for re-election as Speaker, that decision is taken immediately. A motion is put before the House ‘that x do take the Chair of this House as Speaker’. If the question is challenged the decision is made by division. The House debated a proposal on 26 March 2015 that a secret ballot should be used to determine the question, if it is challenged. The House disagreed with the proposal.

If there is no returning Speaker wishing to stand again, or the House votes against the appointment of the former Speaker, a contested election by exhaustive secret ballot must take place to choose a new Speaker. The ballot would then take place on the following day.

Election of Speaker by secret ballot

An uncontested election

If there is only one nomination in a ballot, a motion is put before the House ‘that x do take the Chair of this House as Speaker’. If the motion is not contested the candidate takes the Chair.

If the question is challenged a decision is made by division.

Only if there is more than one candidate does the House proceed to election by a secret ballot.

What is the procedure for electing a Speaker by secret ballot?

This House of Commons Library briefing outlines the procedure for electing a Speaker and gives the results of the election of new Speakers in 2009 and 2019.

When was Speaker Hoyle elected?

Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP, was first elected to the role by secret ballot on Monday 4 November 2019 and was re-elected (uncontested) by the House after the 2019 general election, on 17 December 2019.

When was Speaker Bercow elected?

Speaker Bercow was first elected by secret ballot on 22 June 2009 following the resignation of Speaker Martin. He was subsequently re-elected after the general elections in 2010, 2015 and 2017, on uncontested motions. He stepped down as Speaker on 31 October 2019.

How are the Deputy Speakers elected?

Since 2010, Deputy Speakers are also elected by secret ballot. Deputy Speakers are elected using the single transferable vote system, as set out in Standing Order Nos 2 and 2A.

The following Commons Library briefing describes the procedure for electing Deputy Speakers and shows the results of recent contests.

The votes are allocated so as to ensure that two of the Deputy Speakers are from the opposite side of the House than that from which the Speaker was drawn. Of these, the candidate with the larger number of votes will become the Chairman of Ways and Means, the other the Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means. The third successful candidate will be from the same side of the House as the Speaker and will be the First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means.

The votes must also be allocated so as to ensure that, across the four posts of the Speaker and his Deputies, there will be at least one man and at least one woman.

When were the last Deputy Speaker elections?

Following the 2019 general election, the House of Commons Deputy Speakers were elected on Wednesday 8 January 2020.

Contact the House of Commons Enquiry Service

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  • Telephone: 0800 112 4272 (Freephone) or 020 7219 4272
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