Senior Deputy Speaker (formally the Chairman of Committees)
4.50At the beginning of every session, or whenever a vacancy occurs, a Member is appointed by the House to fill the salaried office of Senior Deputy Speaker, formally appointed as the Chairman of Committees.1 As a salaried office-holder, the Senior Deputy Speaker is required to lay aside outside financial interests falling into specific categories, including remunerated directorships and other employment. They are also expected to lay aside any party or group affiliation on appointment and for the duration of their time in office.2
The Senior Deputy Speaker deputises for the Lord Speaker in all their duties and is empowered, for example, to recall the House during a period of adjournment in the absence of the Lord Speaker. The post holder is Chairman ex officio of all committees unless the House otherwise directs. In practice, this means that they chair the following ‘domestic’ committees:
- Liaison Committee;
- Procedure Committee;
- Committee of Selection.
The Senior Deputy Speaker speaks and answers questions in the House on matters relating to the internal administration of the House, to the work of the Commission (of which they are a member), or to the work of any of the committees they chair. All business on matters relating to the Services and Finance Committees is tabled to the Senior Deputy Speaker, who may delegate responsibility for answering written questions or debates to the relevant Chairmen. The Senior Deputy Speaker also chairs the Freedom of Information Panel.
The Senior Deputy Speaker also exercises general supervision and control over private bills and hybrid instruments.3 In these functions, they are assisted by counsel, who is a permanent official of the House.4
The Senior Deputy Speaker is ex officio the first of the Deputy Speakers appointed by Commission (see below).
- 1. Leader's Group on Governance Report, HL 81 (2015–16) and House Committee, First Report of Session 2016–17, Implementing the Recommendations of the Leader's Group on Governance, HL 19.
- 2. Committee for Privileges, Second Report of Session 2009–10, Guide to the Code of Conduct, HL 81.
- 3. In principle, the Senior Deputy Speaker exercises similar responsibilities in respect of provisional order confirmation bills. However, no such bill has been introduced since 1980.
- 4. LJ (1808) 792.