Yeah, it's the last section of that long winded copy and paste post. Upholding parliamentary rules. He's just not bothering."
The role of the Speaker is multi-faceted; part-Chair, part-referee, part symbolic representative of the Commons as a whole. Their responsibilities include:
The Speaker has an important role in controlling debate in the Commons. While most business in the House is largely controlled and timetabled by the Government, the Speaker can lengthen or curtail debate before the point of ‘closure’, when a motion or bill goes to a vote.
Deciding who can speak
MPs do not have an automatic right to speak during debates and the Speaker must balance MPs' participation with ensuring the smooth running of parliamentary business. Those wishing to speak will try and ‘catch the Speaker’s eye’, rising from their seats briefly once the previous MP has finished their contribution.
In deciding who to call, the Speaker will consider:
- the standard practice of calling the official spokespeople from the Government and the Opposition to bookmark the ends of a debate
- whether some MPs have a specific interest in the topic being debated (such as a direct constituency link or policy expertise)
- an MP’s seniority
- whether an MP has had a previous opportunity to contribute
- the time available for the debate
- the need to protect the rights of parliamentary minorities. Whether minorities have had a chance to contribute can be an important consideration in deciding whether to bring a debate to an end.
The Speaker has the power to decide whether, and which, amendments to bills or motions can be debated and voted on. This risks putting the Speaker in a highly political position, having to make a judgement on which amendments are worthy of debate. However, there are several principles that guide the Speakers’ decisions and seek to ensure impartiality:
While these principles provide a good guide as to how the Speaker will select amendments, they may be departed from should other interests outweigh them. The Speaker’s role in selecting amendments puts pressure on both the Government and Opposition frontbenches. The Government has to be mindful of what amendments might be placed on its bills or motions; the Opposition has to consider which amendments might be put to a vote and must carefully consider what amendments other backbenchers may put forward and whether these will undermine its approach.
- The need to protect the rights of parliamentary minorities. The Speaker will usually allow amendments tabled by the Opposition frontbench as a point of principle. However, they may also select a key backbench amendment to provide an opportunity for parliamentary minorities to air their views.
- The Speaker will generally not choose amendments that are ‘out of order’, meaning that they:
- are submitted late
- are vague
- are out of scope (meaning not sufficiently related to the subject matter of the bill or motion they are tabled against)
- cover issues already considered in depth during the debate
- do not make sense or would mean part of the bill didn’t make sense (wrecking amendments).
- Similar amendments may be grouped together in order to better structure the debate.
Allowing Urgent Questions or Emergency Debates:
The Speaker can decide to allow Urgent Questions or Emergency Debates – both important means for backbenchers and the Opposition to force ministers to the Despatch Box and raise the political profile of an issue.
Exercising the casting vote
One of the most important, albeit very rarely used, powers the Speaker has is to exercise the casting vote in the event of a draw. The use of this power is governed by a long-standing principle aimed at maintaining the Speaker’s impartiality, namely that they should not vote against the overall majority. The Speaker should vote in favour of allowing further discussion and avoid making final decisions (he should not create a majority where no majority existed before) by a casting vote. In practice, this means that a tie at second reading should be resolved by the Speaker voting for the bill – on the basis that there will then be opportunity for further discussion. At third reading they would vote against, on the basis that the law should not be changed except with the will of the entire House. It can be less clear-cut how the Speaker should cast their deciding vote on a motion.
This power was used seven times between 1974 and 1979. It was almost needed when the Callaghan Government was defeated on a vote of confidence of 311 versus 310. It was most recently exercised on 22 July 1993 during the parliamentary vote on the Maastricht Treaty, when votes were tied on 317. The then Speaker Betty Boothroyd voted against the Leader of the Opposition’s amendment on the basis that the decision should only be taken by a majority. But the Government lost the vote on the motion itself. The current Speaker, John Bercow, cast a deciding vote on 3 April on a motion to hold further indicative votes on different Brexit options He said that ‘in accordance with precedent and on the principle that important decisions should not be taken except by a majority, I cast my vote with the Noes.’
Upholding parliamentary rules
The Speaker is also responsible for maintaining order in the House and ensuring Standing Orders (parliamentary rules) are upheld. MPs can ask the Speaker to decide whether actions are within parliamentary rules by making a ‘Point of Order’. In practice, this mechanism is also used by MPs to try to draw attention to their opponent’s actions and score political points.
If the Speaker deems the rules of the House have been broken, they can rule MPs out of order; require them to withdraw their comments; suspend MPs for a day (or invite the House to suspend them for longer by ‘naming them’); or, in extremis, suspend the House.
The Speaker can also make definitive interpretations of parliamentary rules and procedures through ‘Speaker’s rulings’. They will draw on advice from the Clerks and the Deputy Speakers, but the Speaker is the ultimate arbiter.
The Speaker’s interpretation of the parliamentary rules can be controversial. On 18 March 2019, Speaker John Bercow made a statement confirming that the Government cannot ask the Commons a question which is ‘substantially’ the same as a question it has already been asked in the same session – pointing to long-standing precedent and quoting from the parliamentary guidebook Erskine May. Unless MPs expressly vote to disapply this rule, the Speaker’s decision prevents the Government bringing back its Brexit deal to the Commons for a third ‘meaningful vote’ except if the question put to MPs is, in the Speaker’s view, substantially different from the previous meaningful vote held on 12 March – demonstrating the Speaker’s significant gatekeeping role.
In September 2019, John Bercow allowed a motion under the emergency debate (or Standing Order no.24) procedure that required the House to reach a decision on an issue, rather than consider it, eventually paving the way for backbench MPs to take control of the Commons timetable and pass legislation requiring the government to seek an Article 50 extension in specific circumstances. This was an unprecedented use of the emergency debate procedure, and was highly controversial.
The Speaker can also decide whether complaints of privilege – allegations that an MP, servant of the House or a select committee has been obstructed or threatened – should proceed."
You asked what his job was so you got the detailed answer.Yeah, it's the last section of that long winded copy and paste post. Upholding parliamentary rules. He's just not bothering.
No, I have no desire to engage with you. The speaker is there to uphold parliamentary standards. He doesn't do that as he allows Johnson and the cabinet to lie with impunity. Watch The OP videoYou asked what his job was so you got the detailed answer.
Can you quote me which bit of that Upholding Parliamentary Rules section he's "not bothering" with specifically in relation to your previous comment where you seem to expect the Speaker to "notice" every lie/error told in Parliament and presumably do something/challenge it?
Can you also explain how you expect the Speaker, whether it be the current speaker or any other previous speaker (or their deputies) to be in a position know how every comment, statement or answer is actually factual correct because you seem to think that it's the Speakers job to challenge incorrect comments when it isn't his job to do that.
That's the answer I expected - you know you're wrong so you don't "engage"No, I have no desire to engage with you. The speaker is there to uphold parliamentary standards. He doesn't do that as he allows Johnson and the cabinet to lie with impunity. Watch The OP video