The post of Lord Speaker was created under the Constitutional Reform Act 2005. Previously, the Lord Chancellor would preside over debates in the House of Lords.
The Lord Speaker is elected by members of the House of Lords for a period of five years, renewable once. The first election took place on 4 July 2006. Upon election, the successful Lord becomes unaffiliated from any party or group within the House and is not expected to vote, even in the event of a tie (as the House of Lords has rules set out for resolving an equality of votes).
At the start of each sitting, the Lord Speaker processes into the Chamber and presides over proceedings from the Woolsack. As the House is self-regulating, the Lord Speaker has no power to call members to order, to decide who speaks next, or to select amendments, but does collect the voices and calls for divisions (votes) when necessary.
Deputy Speakers assist the Lord Speaker and also sit on the Woolsack in the Lord Speaker’s absence. They are all members of the Lords and may continue to engage in party politics while serving as deputies.
The Lord Speaker has ceremonial duties within the House, for example, at the State Opening of Parliament, and when visiting Heads of State address the Houses of Parliament. She also has an ambassadorial role receiving and visiting speakers of overseas parliaments and participating in speakers’ conferences.
The Lord Speaker has a Peers in Schools programme to engage young people in the work and role of the House of Lords.
Find out more about the Lord Speaker.