650th anniversary of the role of Clerk of the House

15 July 2013

2013 marks the 650th anniversary of the role of Clerk of the House of Commons. Robert De Melton, the first known Clerk of the House, took office in 1363. Over the centuries the role has grown considerably.

The role of the Clerk in modern times

Today, the Clerk of the House is the principal adviser to the House on its procedure and business, and on constitutional issues.

His most visible role, with the other Clerks at the Table, is in the House at Question Time and for major items of business, but he is also a frequent witness before select committees. 

The Clerk is Chief Executive of the House of Commons Service, which employs some 2,000 people and is responsible for all the services supporting the work of the House and its Committees.

As Corporate Officer he is the legal owner of the House’s property, and of the Commons part of the Parliamentary Estate; and as Accounting Officer he is responsible for the budget of the House of Commons Administration.

The current Clerk of the House is Sir Robert Rogers KCB, who was appointed in October 2011.

Anniversary events

To mark the occasion of the 650th anniversary, Sir Robert Rogers will be welcoming the first intake of apprentices to the Clerk’s Apprentice Scheme.

This new scheme, run in partnership with City Gateway, will give ten young people an opportunity to gain valuable experience working in the House of Commons Service.

In addition, Parliamentary Archives has made available online documents and images about the history of Clerk of the House of Commons and about Sir Thomas Erskine May (1815-1886), Clerk of the House of Commons and author of the authoritative work on parliamentary procedure and British constitutional convention.

Image: Parliamentary copyright

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