Senior Deputy Speaker

46.2The Senior Deputy Speaker exercises a general supervision and control of private bills in the House of Lords (see para 4.50 ). This includes the responsibility for moving the various stages of the bill in the House. When the Senior Deputy Speaker moves the second or third reading of a bill, that action is an assurance to the House that in their opinion there is no objection to the passing of that particular stage. If they have an objection, or if there is an intention to raise a debate, the stage is moved by another Lords Member, the Chairman stating their objection in the course of debate before the sense of the House is taken. If any Lords Member opposes the second or third reading of a private bill, the stage is moved by another Lords Member and not by the Senior Deputy Speaker, who is thus left free to express an opinion in debate.1

To facilitate the examination of private bills, Counsel to the Senior Deputy Speaker receives a copy of every private bill proposed to be introduced into either House on its first deposit and at every other stage upon which amendments are made or proposed to be made.2 Any amendments proposed to be made or made in either House are marked on this copy by the promoters at each stage. This practice also assists promoters of a bill originating in the Commons as they are able to prepare amendments, during the bill's passage through that House, to give effect to the observations of the Senior Deputy Speaker and their Counsel.

In addition, the Senior Deputy Speaker is also given powers by specific Standing Orders (90–93):

  1. to confer with the Chairman of Ways and Means for determining the allocation of bills between the two Houses;
  2. to report that an unopposed bill should proceed as an opposed bill; and
  3. to direct the House's attention to special circumstances relating to a private bill and to any proposed instruction to a committee to make an amendment which could have been proposed (by the promoters) only in a petition for additional provision.

The Senior Deputy Speaker is empowered (by Standing Order 95) to select and propose to the House the membership and Chair of committees on opposed private business (see para 46.16 ). They may also decide (under Standing Order 121) whether to sit alone on unopposed bill committees or with two or more Deputy Chairmen.


  1. 1. Parl Deb (1906) 153, c 1053; HL Deb (1975–76) 375, c 1664.
  2. 2. SO 123.