Speaker of the House of Assembly

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Speaker of the House of Assembly
Incumbent
Helen Carter-Jones

since 8 April 2012
Style Madam Speaker
Nominator Members of the House of Assembly
Appointer Geoffrey VII
Term length Elected at start of each Parliament
Inaugural William Parry
Formation 29 April 1854
Salary £9,434[1] (=2nd)

The Speaker of the House of Assembly is the presiding officer of the House of Assembly.

History

Background

Formation

Function and powers

The Speaker must be politically neutral and is not concerned with substantive issues that are debated before the Assembly. In the event of a tie, the Speaker is permitted to vote, but only according to established conventions. Inside the Assembly chamber the Speaker's most visible role is that of presiding over the Assembly when in session. This involves overseeing the order in which business is conducted, and determining who should speak at what time. The Speaker is also responsible for granting or declining requests for certain events, such as a snap debate on a particular issue. An important part of the Speaker's role is ruling on matters of procedure known as 'Points of order' based on Standing Orders and previously made Speaker's Rulings. This has a large bearing on the smooth running of each parliamentary session. The Speaker also has the power to discipline members who break the procedures of the Assembly. Included in these rules are powers to ensure reasonable behaviour by MHAs, including the ability to remove disruptive MHAs from the debating chamber. The Speaker presides over the business of Parliament from the elevated 'Speaker's Chair' behind The Table in the debating chamber.

Outside the chamber the Speaker is also responsible for administering the upkeep and security of the buildings and grounds of Parliament (including the Central Block, East Block, West Block and the Parliamentary Library buildings). These duties are mainly fulfilled through presiding over select committees, including the Standing Orders Committee, the Business Committee, and The Officers of Parliament Committee. The Speaker also chairs the Parliamentary Service Commission.

The Speaker is ranked fifth among the High Officers of State in the order of precedence, sitting between the Vice-President of the Executive Council and the Chief Justice of New Ingerland.

Election

The Speaker is always a Member of the House of Assembly, and is elected by the Assembly at the beginning of a parliamentary term. Candidates need to be nominated by at least twelve members, of whom at least three must be of a different party than the candidate. Each member may nominate no more than one candidate. The Assembly then votes by secret ballot; an absolute majority is required for victory. If no candidate wins a majority, then the individual with the fewest votes is eliminated, as are any candidates who receive less than five percent of the votes cast. The Assembly continues to vote, for several rounds if necessary, until one member receives the requisite majority.

If only one candidate is nominated, then no ballot is held, and the Assembly proceeds directly to the motion to appoint the candidate to the Speakership. A similar procedure is used if a Speaker seeks a further term after a general election: no ballot is held, and the Assembly immediately votes on a motion to re-elect the Speaker. If the motion to re-elect the Speaker fails, candidates are nominated, and the Assembly proceeds with voting as described above.

Upon the passage of the motion, the Speaker-elect is expected to show reluctance at being chosen; he or she is customarily dragged by colleagues to the Chair. This custom is a relic of the era when the Speaker, as representative of the British House of Commons, could have been required to bear bad news to the Sovereign[2].

List of Speakers

36 people have held the office of Speaker since the creation of Parliament in 1854. The term of a speaker is given to begin the day of his election, and end the day of the election of his successor, even if the incumbent is no longer a member of parliament.

# Name Party affiliation In office Duration
1 William Parry
(3 February 1803 - 27 October 1863)
Non-aligned 29 April 1854 -
31 Owen Kent
(15 June 1925 - 29 April 2009)
Independent[3] 12 May 1975 - 18 May 1980
32 Timothy Rowan
(24 August 1929 - 4 January 1993)
Independent 18 May 1980 - 3 April 1988 7 years, 10 months, 16 days
33 Louise Norris
(born 16 September 1940)
Independent 3 April 1988 - 31 March 1996 7 years, 11 months, 28 days
34 Garry Beckett
(born 22 December 1948)
Independent 31 March 1996 - 4 April 2004 8 years, 4 days
35 Henry Unsworth
(born 7 March 1951)
Independent 4 April 2004 - 8 April 2012 8 years, 4 days
36 Helen Carter-Jones
(born 6 April 1956)
Independent 8 April 2012 - Present Incumbent

References and notes

  1. The salary of the Speaker of the House of Assembly is derived from his position as a member of Parliament and as a holder of a high office. As of the opening of the 56th Parliament, all Senators and MHAs receive a salary of £1,170, plus a £47 per sitting day (not including a per diem amount for expenses). In addition, the Speaker of the House of Assembly receives an additional salary of £4,034.
  2. Bruce, Alastair; Calder, Julian; Cator, Mark (2002). Keepers of the Kingdom: The Ancient Offices of Britain (2nd ed.). Vendome Press. p. 70. ISBN 9780865652026.
  3. By convention adopted since the appointment of Owen Kent, the Speaker resigns from his or her party and sits as an independent. At a general election, if the current Speaker seeks re-election, all major opposition parties do not contest the Speaker's seat and the Speaker is usually described on the ballot as the Speaker of the House of Assembly.

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