The Lord Speaker's role
Lord McFall of Alcluith was elected by members of the House of Lords as the fourth Lord Speaker in April 2021 and took office on 1 May 2021.
The Lord Speaker oversees proceedings in the Lords chamber and plays a key role in the Lords Administration. The Lord Speaker also acts as an ambassador for the Lords at home and abroad, explaining and promoting the work of the House of Lords and its contribution to the UK's parliamentary system.
Lord Speaker's duties
- presiding over business in the Lords chamber from the Woolsack
- chairing the House of Lords Commission, which provides high-level strategic and political direction for the House of Lords Administration on behalf of the House
- taking formal responsibility for security in the Lords area of the parliamentary estate
- coordinating an engagement programme to engage the public in the work and role of the Lords, central to which is the House of Lords Engagement Programme.
- attending and speaking at state and ceremonial occasions on behalf of the Lords
- representing the Lords to overseas parliaments, attending conferences with speakers of other parliaments, sharing best practice and developing links between parliaments
Lord Speaker's role in the chamber
The Lord Speaker is the presiding officer in the House of Lords. However, as the House of Lords is self-regulating, the Lord Speaker guides and assists the House during debate, rather than controlling or managing it.
The Lord Speaker has no power to call members to order, to decide who speaks next, or to select amendments, but does call amendments, collect the voices and call for divisions (votes) when necessary.
Deputy Speakers assist the Lord Speaker and sit on the Woolsack in the Lord Speaker's absence. They are all members of the Lords and may continue to engage in party politics while serving as Deputies.
How the Lord Speaker is elected
The Lord Speaker is elected by members of the House of Lords for a period of five years, renewable once. The first election took place on 4 July 2006 when Baroness Hayman took office.
Upon election, the successful Lord Speaker becomes unaffiliated from any party and is not expected to vote, even in the event of a tie (as the House of Lords has rules set out for resolving an equality of votes).
The post of Lord Speaker was created under the Constitutional Reform Act 2005. Previously, the Lord Chancellor presided over debates in the House of Lords.
Photo: House of Lords / Roger Harris