UK Parliament — страница 4

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proposal or 'motion' made by a member. This may or may not be a substantive proposal on which the House will be asked to vote. Motions to 'take note' (of a report, for example), to adjourn the House, or, in the Lords, to 'move for papers', are all, in effect, opportunities for MPs and Peers to debate a matter without a concluding vote. During debates in the House of Commons all speeches are addressed to the Speaker or one of the Deputy Speakers. MPs speak from wherever they have been sitting and not from a rostrum, although front-bench members usually stand at one of the dispatch boxes on the Table of the House. MPs may not read their speeches, although they may refresh their memories by referring to notes. In general, no MP may speak twice to the same motion, except to clarify

part of a speech that has been misunderstood or 'by leave of the House'. At the end of the debate the occupant of the Chair 'puts the question' whether to agree with the motion or not. The question may be decided without voting, or by a simple majority vote. In the Commons, voting is supervised by the Speaker who announces the result. Votes may be taken by acclamation - the norm for uncontroversial business. However, if MPs or Peers wish to 'divide the House', which generally happens on more controversial votes, then a division is held. Members have to file through one of two division lobbies, one for the Ayes to vote yes, one for the Noes to vote no. The numbers going through each lobby are counted and the result given (in the Commons) to the Speaker by the 'tellers' (MPs

appointed to supervise the vote). In a tied vote the Speaker gives a casting vote, according to defined principles rather than on the merits of the question. “Order! Order!” is one of the terms most associated with Parliament, conjuring up an image of the Speaker laying down the law when dealing with a host of unruly MPs. This image has become more widely known with the television of Parliament. The Speaker, currently Rt Hon Michael Martin, MP for Glasgow, Springburn, is in fact the chief officer of the House of Commons. He is elected by the House to: Represent the House in its relations to the Crown, the House of Lords and other authorities; Preside over the House and enforce the rules which govern its conduct. The Speaker is also a chairman of the House of Commons

Commission. He has a number of duties concerning the functions of the House and is in control of the Commons part of the Palace of Westminster and its precincts. Control of Westminster Hall and the Crypt Chapel is vested jointly in the Lord Great Chamberlain (representing the Sovereign), the Lord Chancellor and the Speaker. It has become a generally accepted principle that, once a Speaker has been elected in one Parliament, he or she is reelected in subsequent Parliaments and thus remains in office until he or she chooses to retire. On some occasions the Speaker is returned to Parliament unopposed, but this is no longer always the case. When seeking reelection at a general election, the Speaker remains aloof from party issues and stands as “the Speaker seeking reelection”.

The House of Commons selects its own Speaker. There is no requirement for the Speaker to be a member of the governing party. Speakers are elected at the beginning of each new Parliament or when the previous Speaker dies or retires. During the Speaker’s election the House is presided by the Father of the House – an honorary title bestowed upon the member who has the longest unbroken record of service as an MP. Following a General Election, if the Speaker from the previous parliament is still a Member, the Father of the House asks whether he or she is willing to be chosen as Speaker again. If this is the case, the Father of the House calls on one member to move the motion than the former Speaker should take the Chair as Speaker-elect. Following the death or resignation of the

previous Speaker, or if the previous Speaker does not return after a General Election, there may be more than one candidate wishing to stand. On October 23, 2000, when Speaker Martin was first elected, eleven other candidates were proposed. The House voted on each one, taking p many hours of parliamentary time. The Speaker has full authority to enforce the rules of the House of Commons. He or she has discretion on whether to allow a motion to end discussion so that a matter can be put to the vote and has powers to put a stop to irrelevance and repetition in debate, and to save time in other ways. In cases of grave and continuous disorder, the Speaker can adjourn or suspend the sitting, but this is rarely necessary. If an alleged breach of parliamentary privilege is raised against