Publications / Briefings

Back to Business: Election of the Deputy Speakers

3 Jul 2024
The three Deputy Speakers in the 2019-24 Parliament: Dame Eleanor Laing MP, Dame Rosie Winterton MP, and Nigel Evans MP. ©House of Commons/Jessica Taylor
The three Deputy Speakers in the 2019-24 Parliament: Dame Eleanor Laing MP, Dame Rosie Winterton MP, and Nigel Evans MP. ©House of Commons/Jessica Taylor

One of the Speaker’s first decisions will be to decide a date for the election of the Deputy Speakers. The House of Commons has three Deputy Speakers who assist the Speaker by chairing debates in his absence. So what happens in the interim until the Deputy Speakers are appointed? Unlike the Speaker, the Deputy Speakers do not resign from their party when they take up their post. How are the three posts allocated between the parties?

On the day of the King’s Speech, pending the election of the Deputy Speakers, the Speaker nominates up to three MPs to serve temporarily in the role. In 2019 the temporary Deputy Speakers were Sir Roger Gale, Sir George Howarth, and Sir Gary Streeter (only Sir Roger Gale is seeking re-election to Parliament at the General Election).

The Standing Orders do not specify a date for the Deputy Speakers’ election, only that the Speaker sets out the arrangements:

“At the commencement of every Parliament, or from time to time, as necessity may arise, the Speaker shall notify the House of the arrangements to be made to elect a Chairman of Ways and Means and two Deputy Chairmen of Ways and Means…” [1]

However, the Standing Orders do require the ballot to be held between 11am and noon on the day appointed for the election.

In recent years, the election of Deputy Speakers has been held between four and six sitting days after the King’s Speech. The precise date will depend on whether the House sits on Friday 19 July and when the House rises for Summer recess. The Speaker normally announces the date for the election around the time of the King’s Speech.

The first Deputy Speaker is the Chairman of Ways and Means, who historically presided over debates on financial matters. The Chairman of Ways and Means continues to have duties beyond those of the two other Deputy Speakers, such as normally presiding over the Budget debate, any Committee of the Whole House, and in connection with legislative committees, private bills and Westminster Hall sittings

Under Standing Order No.2A, the Chairman of Ways and Means and the Second Deputy Chairman should come from the opposite side of the House to the Speaker, while the First Deputy Chairman should be from the same side of the House as the Speaker.[2] The Standing Order also prescribes that among the Speaker and three Deputy Speakers there should be at least one man and one woman.

As Sir Lindsay Hoyle was previously a Labour MP then, assuming Labour wins the General Election, one of the three Deputy Speaker must be chosen from the Government benches and the other two Deputy Speakers from the Opposition ranks. The Chairman of Ways and Means must come from the Opposition benches. Of the three Deputy Speakers in the last Parliament (Dame Eleanor Laing (Cons), Dame Rosie Winterton (Lab) and Nigel Evans (Cons)) only the latter is seeking re-election at the General Election. It is likely that if returned to Parliament he will seek re-election as one of the Deputy Speakers.

The three Deputy Speakers are elected by secret ballot, using the Single Transferable Vote system.

Nominations for the Deputy Speakerships must be submitted between 10am and 5pm on the day before the election. Candidates require the support of between six and 10 Members. The elections are held between 11am and 12 noon, with the winners taking-up their posts the following day.

Once elected, Deputy Speakers remain in office until the dissolution of the Parliament, unless they resign or otherwise cease to be an MP.

[1] Standing Order No.2, House of Commons Standing Orders for Public Business, as at 23 October 2023

[2] Standing Order No.2A, House of Commons Standing Orders for Public Business, as at 23 October 2023

©UK Parliament/Maria Unger

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