Describe the election, powers and functions of speaker in parliament?

(1) Introduction To Speaker of House Of Commons

Office of Speaker is as old as British Parliament for many centuries, Speaker remained an agent of British Monarch in British Parliament. During struggle between British Parliame and British Monarch, a number of Speakers were executed. This struggle and sacrifices finally paved a way for development of completely changed role and status of Speaker in British Parliament. Now, Speaker is chief officer of British House of Commons, remains politically impartial at every time, and represents British Members of Parliament to the Monarch, the Lords and other authorities.

 (2) Election Of Speaker In British Parliament:

Great Britain has experienced various systems and procedures for election of Speaker of House of Commons. In 2007, a system was accepted and the same was used in 2009 for the first time. According to this new system, election of Speaker is held through following procedure:

  • (i) Nomination of candidates
  • (ii) Secret ballot
  • (iii) Fifty percent majority
  • (iv) Motion for appointment

(i) Nomination Of Candidates

At least twelve members must nominate a candidate against seat of British Speaker. Out of these twelve members, three must be from a party other than that of candidate. And each member can nominate only one candidate.

(ii) Secret Ballot:

After nomination of candidates, House of Commons votes through secret ballot. However, voting by secret ballot is not held in the following two cases.

  • (a) Nomination of only one candidate
  • (b) Re-election of Speaker

a) Nomination Of Only One Candidate

No voting through secret ballot is held when only one candidate is nominated. In such situation, House of Commons proceeds directly to motion to appoint the candidate to the seat of Speaker.

b) Re-election Of Speaker:

No voting through secret ballot is held when a previous Speaker seeks a further term after general elections. In such situation, House of Commons proceeds directly to motion to re-elect the Speaker. However, if the motion to re-elect the Speaker failes, candidates are nominated and voting is held in House of Commons.

(iii) Fifty Percent Majority:

Gaining of fifty percent majority in voting through secret ballot is necessary to win election of Speaker in British House of Commons. If no candidate wins such majority, candidates, who get the fewest votes, and who get less than five per cent of the vole, are eliminated. Then, Members of Parliament vote again for these short listed candidates and this continues until one candidate receives fifty percent majority out of casting votes.

(iv) Motion For Appointment:

When a candidate wins the fifty percent majority, House of Commons moves a motion and votes on this motion to appoint this candidate to the seat of Speaker. If this motion fails, the whole procedure is repeated for election of Speaker.

(3) Powers & Functions Of Speaker In British Parliament

Speaker of British House of Commons possesses much extensive powers than those of Lord Chancellor of British of Lords.

Followings are powers and functions of Speaker in British parliament:

  • (i) Presiding Officer of House of Commons
  • (ii) Maintenance of discipline during debates
  • (iii) Permission to speak
  • (iv) Power in case of disorder
  • (v) Announcement of results
  • (vi) Certification of Money-Bill
  • (vii) Representation of House of Commons
  • (viii) Representation of His/Her constituency
  • (ix) Casting vote
  • (x) Recalling of House of Commons

(i) Presiding Officer Of House of Commons:

The Speaker is presiding officer of House of Commons Therefore, his/her primary function is to preside over British House of Commons.

(ii) Maintenance Of Discipline During Debates:

Speaker of British House of Commons is to maintain discipline especially during debates.

(iii) Permission To Speak:

Without permission of Speaker, no Member of Parliament can start his/her speech in British House of Commons. It is, in fact, Speaker, who permits the members to speak. Through this power, Speaker invites members from government as well as opposition side to present their views.

(iv) Power In Case Of Disorder:

British Speaker can punish any member, who causes disorder during meeting of House of Commons. To punish such member, Speaker can demand that such member should leave the House for remaining meeting of the day. If disorder continues, Speaker can postpone the meeting of House of Commons.

(v) Announcement Of Results:

Speaker of British House of Commons possesses power to announce results.

(vi) Certification Of Money-Bill:

Speaker of British House of Commons has power to certify Money-Bill.

(vii) Representation Of House Of Commons:

Another function of Speaker of British House of Commons is to represent the House before British Monarch, House of Lords and other non-parliamentary bodies. On important occasions, the Speaker can even present addresses to the Crown on behalf of House of Commons.

(viii) Representation Of His/Her constituency:

Speaker represents his or her constituency in British Parliament.

(ix) Casting Vote:

Speaker of British House of Commons possesses power of casting vote.

(x) Recalling Of House Of Commons:

Speaker of British House of Commons possesses power to recall the House from recess during a national emergency or on request of Government.

(4) Conclusion:

To conclude, it can be stated that constitutional development has made Speaker of British House of Commons politically impartial. After his/her appointment, Speaker leaves association with his/her political party and remains impartial. Such impartiality has increased respect for office of British Speaker.

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