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Chairing debates in the House of Commons

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The Speaker is perhaps best known as the person who keeps order and calls MPs to speak during Commons debates. The Speaker calls MPs in turn to give their opinion on an issue or as a question. MPs signal that they want to speak by standing up from their seat (a custom known as 'catching the Speaker's eye') or they can notify the Speaker in advance by writing.

The Speaker has full authority to make sure MPs follow the rules of the House during debates. This can include:

  • directing an MP to withdraw remarks if, for example, they use abusive language
  • suspending the sitting of the House due to serious disorder
  • suspending MPs who are deliberately disobedient - known as naming
  • asking MPs to be quiet so Members can be heard

Ahead of the day’s sitting, the Speaker Chairs a daily briefing with the Deputy Speakers and other procedural advisors where the go through the day’s business.