Election of a Speaker — Election of Speaker by secret ballot — 22 Mar 2001
I beg to move,
(1) This House approves the recommendations contained in the Second Report of the Procedure Committee, Session 2000-01, Election of a Speaker (House of Commons Paper No. 40) relating to the election of a Speaker.
(2) Standing Order No. 1 (Election of the Speaker) be amended by leaving out paragraph (4); and the title of the Standing Order shall be 'Election of the Speaker: Member presiding'; and
(3) The following new Standing Orders No. 1A (Re-election of former Speaker) and No. 1B (Election of Speaker by secret ballot) be made:
1A. (1) If at the commencement of a Parliament the Member who was Speaker at the dissolution of the previous Parliament is returned to the House, the Member presiding in accordance with Standing Order No. 1 (Election of the Speaker: Member presiding) shall, when the House meets to proceed with the choice of a Speaker, ascertain whether the former Speaker is willing to be chosen as Speaker, and, the former Speaker having submitted himself to the House, shall call upon a Member to move that he do take the Chair of this House as Speaker; and the question thereon shall be put forthwith.
(2) If the question is agreed to, the former Speaker shall thereupon take the Chair as Speaker-elect.
(3) If the question is negatived, the Member presiding shall forthwith adjourn the House to the following day at half-past Two o'clock, and the House shall proceed in accordance with Standing Order No. 1B (Election of Speaker by secret ballot).
1B. (1) If the question put in accordance with Standing Order No. 1A (Re-election of former Speaker) has been negatived, and on any other occasion when it is necessary to proceed with the choice of a new Speaker, the election shall be by secret ballot.
(2) Preparatory arrangements for a ballot shall be made under the supervision of the Clerk of the House.
(3) (a) Nominations of candidates shall be in writing and shall be received by the Clerk of the House between half-past Nine o'clock and half-past Ten o'clock in the morning on the day on which the House is to elect a Speaker.
(b) Each nomination shall consist of a signed statement made by the candidate declaring his willingness to stand for election accompanied by the signatures of not fewer than twelve nor more than fifteen Members, of whom not fewer than three shall be Members elected to the House as members of any party other than that to which the candidate belongs or members of no party. No Member shall sign more than one such statement and if any Member does so, his signature shall no longer be valid.
(c) As soon as practicable following the close of nominations, lists of the candidates shall be placed in the Members' lobby and published.
(4) If only one Member is nominated in accordance with paragraph (3) above, the Member presiding shall, when the House meets to elect a Speaker, invite the Member so nominated to submit himself to the House, and shall then put forthwith the question that that Member do take the Chair of this House as Speaker.
(5) Paragraphs (6) to (13) of this Order shall apply if two or more Members are nominated in accordance with paragraph (3) above.
(6) When the House meets, the order in which candidates may address the House shall be determined by lot; the Member presiding shall then invite each candidate to address the House; and after all candidates have been given an opportunity to speak, the Member presiding shall direct the House to proceed to a ballot.
(7) The Member presiding may not vote in any ballot.
(8) (a) A ballot shall take place in the lobbies unless the Member presiding directs otherwise.
(b) Each Member intending to vote shall be provided with a ballot paper bearing the names of the candidates listed in alphabetical order.
(c) Each such Member may vote for only one candidate on the ballot paper.
(d) A ballot shall be declared closed after the expiration of half an hour and counting shall take place under arrangements made by the Clerk of the House.
(e) The Member presiding shall have discretion to vary the timings given in this Order and power to give final directions on any matter of doubt arising from the conduct of a ballot or from an individual ballot paper.
(9) As soon as practicable after the votes have been counted the Member presiding shall announce to the House the numbers of votes cast for each candidate.
(10) If a candidate has received more than half the votes cast in a ballot, the Member presiding shall forthwith put the question that that Member do take the Chair of this House as Speaker.
(11) If no candidate has received more than half the votes cast in a ballot the Member presiding shall direct the House to proceed forthwith to a further ballot to which paragraph (12) below shall apply.
(12) In any further ballot no new nominations may be received and the names of--
(a) the candidate who received the fewest votes in the previous ballot;
(b) any candidate who received less than five per cent. of the votes cast in the previous ballot; and
(c) any candidate who, within ten minutes of the announcement in the House of the result of the previous ballot, shall have notified the Member presiding of his intention to withdraw,
shall be removed from the ballot paper, except that where two or more candidates received the same number of votes, their names shall remain on the ballot paper unless paragraph (b) applies.
(13) If the effect of paragraph (12) above is to remove from the ballot paper the name of every candidate except one, the Member presiding shall forthwith put the question that that Member do take the Chair of this House as Speaker.
(14) (a) Notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Orders Nos. 10 (Wednesday sittings) and 11 (Friday sittings), on any day on which the House meets to elect a Speaker, it shall meet at half-past Two o'clock.
(b) No amendment may be offered to the question that a Member do take the Chair of this House as Speaker.
(c) If that question is agreed to, that Member shall thereupon take the Chair as Speaker-elect.
(d) If that question is negatived, the Member presiding shall forthwith adjourn the House to the following day at half-past Two o'clock, and the provisions of paragraph (3) above shall apply in respect of a fresh ballot.
I beg to move, in line 28, to leave out the word 'secret'.
May I say a word or two about the fine speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn)? I hope that it was not his last. As on so many occasions, he dwelt on the way in which democracy evolved in this country. Some illusions can be held about the fact that we lacked freedom and democracy for centuries. I have two responses to that. First, with all its imperfections, our democracy and House of Commons survived when many Parliaments in the last century did not because they gave up to fascism and tyranny.
The House divided: Ayes 82, Noes 84.
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