Mr Speaker Denison's decisions of 1861 and 1867: need for a majority

20.92The next principle which guides the Speaker in giving their casting vote was explained by Mr Speaker Denison in 1861 and amplified in 1867. The numbers being equal on the third reading of the Church Rates Abolition Bill, 19 June 1861, Mr Speaker Denison gave his casting vote against the bill stating that it appeared to him that a prevailing opinion existed in favour of a settlement of the question different, in some degree, from that contained in the bill; and that he thought he should best discharge his duty by leaving to the future judgement of the House the decision what change in the law should be made, rather than take the responsibility for the change on his single vote.1

The numbers being equal on a proposed resolution relating to Trinity College Dublin, Mr Speaker Denison stated:

‘that this was an abstract resolution, which, if agreed to by the House, would not even form the basis of legislation; but undoubtedly the principle involved in it was one of great importance, and, if affirmed by a majority of the House, it would have much force. It should, however, be affirmed by a majority of the House, and not merely by the casting vote of its presiding officer. For these reasons he declared himself with the noes'.2


  1. CJ (1861) 282; Denison 94. See also CJ (1821–22) 229.
  2. CJ (1867) 395. See also ibid (1975–76) 359. On two occasions the Speaker has voted for the postponement of a proceeding to a future day, ibid (1878) 423; ibid (1887) 397.