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Election of the Speaker

The MP with the longest unbroken service who is not a minister presides over the election.

If the Speaker from the previous Parliament is seeking re-election, they will make a short speech. Another MP is called to move a motion that the previous Speaker take the Chair as Speaker-elect and make a speech. The motion isn’t debated and the MP presiding puts the question to the House. If the House agrees, the previous Speaker will take the Chair as Speaker-elect (and will become Speaker when the Queen signifies her consent to the appointment).

If the House doesn’t agree, or if the previous Speaker isn’t seeking re-election, a secret ballot is held.

Candidates must submit written nominations to the Table Office between 9.30am and 10.30am on the morning of the election. This consists of a signed declaration that you’re willing to stand, along with the signatures of between 12 and 15 MPs who support your nomination. At least three of the nominees must be from a different party from you (or from no party). A list of candidates is placed in Members’ Lobby and published on Parliament’s website. No MP can sign more than one nomination form, and if they do their signature is no longer valid.

Each candidate gives a speech in the Chamber. The order is decided by lot. If there is only one nomination, that candidate is automatically proposed as Speaker. Once all the candidates have spoken, MPs are asked to vote.

You will be given a ballot paper with the names of all the candidates listed in alphabetical order. You can vote for only one candidate. You cast your vote secretly in either of the division lobbies beside the Chamber. You’ve got 30 minutes to do this (there’s discretion to vary this time). If any candidate gets more than 50% of the votes, that candidate will be proposed to the House as Speaker-elect.

If no candidate gets more than 50%, you’ll be asked to vote again. This time the ballot paper won’t include:

  • the candidate who came last (unless two candidates are tied for last place and both obtained 5% or more of the total vote)
  • anyone who got less than 5% of the votes
  • anyone who withdraws within 10 minutes of the result of the previous round being announced to the House

The election proceeds through successive rounds until a single candidate remains. A motion will be put to the House proposing that MP as Speaker. If agreed, the MP takes the Chair as Speaker-elect. The party leaders make speeches of congratulation.

Once this process is complete and the Speaker-elect has received the Queen’s approval, the Speaker will swear or affirm allegiance to the Queen.

Once elected, the Speaker remains in office until the next general election, unless they resign.