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The Speaker of the House of Commons

4.19The Speaker of the House of Commons is the representative of the House itself in its powers, proceedings and dignity. The Speaker's rank is defined by the Order in Council of 30 May 1919, in which it is provided that upon all occasions and in all meetings, except where otherwise provided by Act of Parliament, the Speaker shall have, hold and enjoy place, pre-eminence and precedence immediately after the Lord President of the Council.1 Until this time, the Speaker had taken precedence of all commoners, both by ancient custom and by legislative declaration.2

The Speaker's functions fall into three main categories. First, the Speaker is the spokesperson or representative of the House in its relations with the Crown, the House of Lords and other authorities and persons outside Parliament. Second, the Speaker presides over the debates of the House of Commons and enforces the observance of all rules for preserving order in its proceedings. Third, the Speaker has administrative responsibilities, including chairing the House of Commons Commission (para 6.2 ). In carrying out these duties, the Speaker is assisted by a small personal staff (see para 6.20 ).


  1. 1. London Gazette, 3 June 1919, p 7059.
  2. 2. The Great Seal Act 1688 (1 Will and Mary, c 21) enacts that the Lords Commissioners for the Great Seal ‘not being peers, shall have and take place next after the peers of this realm, and the Speaker of the House of Commons’. See also 2 Hatsell 249 n; and regarding the precedence between the Speaker and a peer of Ireland, whilst a Member of the House of Commons, see Colchester i, 413.