Formal communications by the Speaker
19.7Immediately after prayers, after any item of the kind described above, the Speaker, when occasion has arisen, communicates to the House at discretion the purport or reads the contents of any letters received from or sent to external authorities. These may include replies to communications of condolence or congratulation made by the House to members of the royal family (see para 9.11 ) or messages of the same kind sent by or to foreign legislative bodies (see para 4.22 ).1 They may also include such matters as a letter from a judge communicating the cause of commitment of a Member arrested upon a criminal charge or the sentence passed upon a Member after trial (and see para 4.22 ) or a communication from the court about an election petition.2 On 1 September 2014, the Speaker made a statement at this time on the governance of the House.3 It is at this time also that the Speaker announces the death of any Member which has been officially notified since the last sitting of the House;4 such announcements used to be made following a standard wording but the more recent practice has been for a personalised tribute by the Speaker.5 The Speaker may also at this point ask for leave of absence to attend official functions,6 although the current practice is for leave to be given by means of a motion moved by a member of the Government after notice.7 When the House was recalled to meet on 14 September 2001 in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre in New York, the Speaker called a three minutes' silence at this time.8
- 1. For example statements by the Speaker congratulating Princes William and Harry on their engagements, HC Deb (16 November 2010) 518, c 723; ibid (27 November 2017) 632, c 1; HC Deb (20 February 1952) 496, c 201 and CJ (1951–52) 100, and other dates at that time, for messages received following the death of the King.
- 2. For example, HC Deb (8 November 2010) 518, c 1; ibid (6 December 2010) 520, c 1.
- 3. HC Deb (1 September 2014) 585, cc 1–2.
- 4. HC Deb (1936–37) 326, c 3100. An announcement is made whether the Member has taken their seat or not, CJ (1980–81) 307; ibid (1997–98) 2.
- 5. See for example HC Deb (5 January 2010) 503, c 1; ibid (27 February 2017) 622, c 1.
- 6. For example, HC Deb (1966–67) 729, c 891; ibid (1970–71) 818, c 833; ibid (1974) 874, c 1799; ibid (1976–77) 924, c 935; ibid 934, c 855; ibid 935, c 1117, etc.
- 7. CJ (1981–82) 267, 444; ibid (1982–83) 174; ibid (1993–94) 359; ibid (2001–02) 22, 288; ibid (2002–03) 147, 454.
- 8. HC Deb (2001–02) 372, c 604; ibid (9 June 2010) 511, c 322.