Clerk of the House of Commons

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6.7The Clerk of the House is the chief permanent Officer of the House of Commons and head of the House of Commons Service. The Clerk is appointed by the Crown, by letters patent, in which they are styled ‘Under Clerk of the Parliaments … to attend upon the Commons’.1

The Clerk of the House is appointed by the Commission as Accounting Officer for the House of Commons. Under the Parliamentary Corporate Bodies Act 1992, the Clerk of the House is a corporation sole known as the Corporate Officer of the House of Commons. As such, the Clerk is empowered to acquire, hold, manage and dispose of land and other property of any description for any purpose of the House of Commons and to enter into contracts for any purpose of the House.2 As Corporate Officer the Clerk has responsibilities relating to the House's obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. The Clerk is the data controller for personal data processed by the House of Commons and Chair of the Commons Executive Board. Under the House of Commons (Administration) Act 1978, as amended by the House of Commons Commission Act 2015, the Clerk is a member of the House of Commons Commission.

The Clerk makes a declaration before the Lord Chancellor on entering office: this includes a duty ‘to make true entries, remembrances, and journals of the things done and passed in the House of Commons'.3 The Clerk assists the Speaker3A and advises Members on questions of order and the proceedings of the House, and has the custody of all records or other documents. The Clerk signs the Addresses, votes of thanks, and orders of the House, endorses the bills sent or returned to the Lords, and reads whatever is required to be read in the House.4

Footnotes

  1. 1. 2 Hatsell 255; for example, London Gazette, 9 January 1998, 8 January 2003, 5 October 2006; see also CJ (1642–44) 54, 57. For the earliest grant of appointment by letters patent, 1 Edw 4, see HC 96 (1856).
  2. 2. Parliamentary Corporate Bodies Act 1992, s 2.
  3. 3. The Clerk's oath, of very ancient form and administered similarly to the Clerks of both Houses, was converted into a declaration by virtue of s 12 of the Promissory Oaths Act 1868.
  4. 3A. Where the Clerk of the House considers a Speaker's decision `to comprise a substantial breach of the Standing Orders, or a departure from long-established conventions, without appropriate authorisation by the House itself’, a statement indicating the Clerk's view may be placed in the Library of the House and the Speaker will make the House aware accordingly, HC Deb (29 January 2020) 670, c 781 (and see para 4.25 ).
  5. 4. CJ (1547–1628) 306; ibid (1648–51) 542; ibid (1711–14) 724, etc.