Friday 12 June 2009

Election of Speaker of the Commons

A note has been prepared for MPs setting out the arrangements for the election of the new Speaker. The election will take place on 22nd June.



1. This note describes the practical arrangements for the election of a Speaker by secret ballot. This new procedure is set out in detail in Standing Order No. 1B, which was agreed by the House on 22 March 2001, following recommendations by the Procedure Committee in its 2nd Report of Session 2000–01 (HC 40).


2. Nominations should be submitted in writing to the Lower Table Office between 9.30 am and 10.30 am on the day of the election. Nomination Forms will be available in advance from the Table Office and the Vote Office but need not be used, provided that in all respects nominations meet the provisions of the Standing Order. To be valid, nominations must contain a signed statement from the candidate declaring willingness to stand, and must be signed by not fewer than 12 nor more than 15 Members, of whom at least three must have been elected to the House as members of a party other than that of the candidate (or as members of no party). No Member may sign more than one statement of nomination—and if any Member does so, their signature will be invalidated for all nominations.

3. A list of validly nominated candidates will be made available by 11.00 am in the Members’ Lobby (Vote Office window) and the Division Lobbies and on the intranet. The names of those nominating a candidate are not published.

Candidates address the House
4. The House will meet at 2.30 pm, with the Senior Member in the Chair. Prayers will not be read. If there is only one valid nomination, the Presiding Member will invite the Member so nominated to submit himself or herself to the House and then put the question for that Member’s election as Speaker to the House forthwith. There will be no ballot.
5. If there is more than one candidate a ballot is held. The candidates will address the House
in turn, the order having been determined by lot drawn by the Presiding Member. The order of speaking will be announced in advance on the annunciator and the candidates will be contacted directly to inform them.
The Ballot
6. The start of the first ballot will be declared by the Presiding Member after the conclusion of the candidates’ addresses and the ballot will run for half an hour from that time. Members with surnames A to K should vote in the Aye Lobby, entering the doors behind the Speaker’s Chair; Members with surnames starting L to Z should vote in the No Lobby, entering the doors off the Members’ Lobby. Only one entrance to each lobby will be open. Members will have their name recorded at temporary division desks before being issued with a ballot paper from a station set up further down the lobby. The ballot paper will give the names of candidates in alphabetical order. Members should approach the division desks in three queues as follows.

In the Aye Lobby: surnames beginning with A to C
surnames beginning with D to G
surnames beginning with H to K

In the No Lobby: surnames beginning with L to O
surnames beginning with P to S
surnames beginning with T to Z

7. Members should complete the ballot paper at one of the stations erected in the lobby, and then deposit it in the ballot box at the exit from the lobby. Members may vote for only one candidate.

8. The ballot will be open for half an hour at which point the Presiding Member will order
the entry doors to the lobby to be locked. All Members in the lobby when the doors are locked will be allowed to vote.
9. It is expected that the counting of the first ballot will take approximately one hour.
10. As soon as counting is complete the House will be summoned. The Presiding Member will announce the number of votes cast for each candidate. If one has received more than half of the votes cast, the question will be put “that [that Member] do take the Chair of the House as Speaker”. Otherwise the House will proceed to a second ballot. At this stage no new nominations may be received. A new ballot paper will be prepared without the names of (a) the candidate who received the fewest votes, (b) any candidate who received less than 5% of the votes cast in the previous ballot, and (c) any candidate who within ten minutes of the announcement of the previous ballot has notified the Presiding Member of an intention to withdraw.
11. It is expected that the next ballot would be opened about 45 minutes after the announcement of the result of the previous ballot. The timing will appear on the annunciator. Again, the ballot will be open for half an hour.
12. Successive ballots will be held until either one candidate receives more than half the votes
cast or the elimination of other candidates leaves only one candidate on the ballot paper. The question will then be put “that [that Member] do take the Chair of the House as Speaker”. If that question is agreed, the Member will then take the Chair as Speaker-elect.