A flaw in the new rules?

Lord Norton

Lord Tyler refers to the brief debate on Thursday on the report from the Procedure Committee.  The report includes new rules for the election of the Lord Speaker, a defect having been found in the existing rules.  The new rules provide that a Lord Speaker should be elected no later than 15 July every five years with the person elected taking up the post on 1 September.  It also provides that, in the exceptional circumstances of a Lord Speaker dying or resigning, an election for a new Speaker shall take place within three months.   However, as far I read the recommended rules, there is a problem.  I raised this in the debate:

“Lord Norton of Louth: My Lords, I have a query about the proposed new Standing Order for the election of the Lord Speaker. If a Lord Speaker resigns or dies in, say, mid-October, the election of the new Speaker will take place within three months under this new Standing Order—that is, no later than mid-January. However, under the proposed Standing Order, the new Lord Speaker will take office on 1 September in the year of the election. We could thus have a new Lord Speaker elected in January but not able to take up the post until 1 September, with the role presumably being filled in the interim by the Lord Chairman of Committees. Is that correct or have I missed something?”

The Chairman of Committees, Lord Brabazon of Tara, did not have an immediate answer.  He said he would write.  I let him know shortly before he moved the report that I would raise the point and I saw him immediately afterwards.  He wondered if the reference to ‘paragraph (5)’ would cover the point but I pointed out that paragraph 5 covers approval by the Queen.   As far as I can see, there is a problem.  However, I would welcome readers’ comments.  From your reading of the report (the new Standing Orders are in Appendix 1), am I correct in my interpretation, or do the Standing Orders ensure that there is not the potential for a significant gap between the election of a Lord Speaker (consequent to death or resignation of the incumbent) and taking up the post?

13 comments for “A flaw in the new rules?

  1. Carl.H
    30/04/2011 at 4:37 pm

    My Lord, my personal take on the matter is that Appendix Section 19 1A covers this matter in:

    “For the purposes of paragraph (1), this election is then “the previous election”.

    I would presume from that, that the elected could just carry on from his predecessor.

    • Lord Norton
      Lord Norton
      30/04/2011 at 5:10 pm

      Carl.H: I took that as dealing with the issue of the length of the term (though that in itself raises issues as to the two-term provision) but still leaving it ambiguous as to when the successful candidate would take up the position.

  2. Dave H
    30/04/2011 at 4:39 pm

    I agree with your interpretation, there is no provision for a Lord Speaker to take office except on the 1st September. Paragraph (1A) needs a note to allow taking of office immediately paragraph (5) is satisfied (otherwise you can elect one without reference to paragraph (5) because it’s specified as a requirement in (1) but not (1A)).

  3. AlanLB
    30/04/2011 at 4:53 pm

    Happy to comment, but really need to have sight of the relevant “Standing Orders”.

    Subject to that, and on just reading the new Standing Orders are in Appendix 1, I would agree with your interpretation/that there is a problem with the drafting.



  4. Rich
    01/05/2011 at 2:42 am

    Carl H’s interpretation refers to a different issue. The “previous election” language is part of the mechanism to put elections back on the 15 July schedule, rather than having the next election five years to the day from the by-election.

    I disagree with Lord Norton’s interpretation. The language that creates the 1 September starting date specifically restricts it to “a Lord Speaker elected under this paragraph”, i.e., Paragraph 1. A Lord Speaker elected to fill a vacancy is elected under Paragraph 1A, and is therefore not brought under the terms of the 1 September language.

    • Dave H
      01/05/2011 at 1:56 pm

      I read the reference to “previous election” as resetting the clock to five years from the by-election, but if the by-election took place on 1st January, the next election could be five and a half years hence. If it was on the 31st December then it would only be four and a half years.

      • Rich
        01/05/2011 at 11:10 pm

        I believe you are misreading that. In Paragraph 1, it says that a new election will be held by 15 July in the fifth year after the previous election. Paragraph 1A clarifies that, if there is a by-election, then the “previous election” referred to in Paragraph 1 will be the by-election. Thus, if there is a by-election on 5 November 2012, the next election must be held in the fifth year after 2012 by 15 July, i.e., the election must be held from 1 January to 15 July 2017.

        If you think about it mathematically, the phrase “the previous election” is a variable equal to the calendar year in which the last election was held. Paragraph 1A simply makes clear that where there is a by-election, “the previous election” is set equal to the calendar year in which the by-election took place, rather than the previous regular election. Thus,

        Paragraph 1:
        New election date = 1 January to 15 July (“calendar year of last election” + 5)

        Paragraph 1A:
        New election date = 1 January to 15 July (“calendar year of by-election” + 5)

    • JH
      01/05/2011 at 4:36 pm

      Lord Norton, while not professing expertise, I agree with Rich – the reference to 1st September appears only in 19(1) and there is no cross-reference to it in 19(1A). When the Lord Speaker takes office in such circumstances would thus appear to be on election (or rather on approval of the result by the Queen by virtue of 19(5) which, under the full text of the Order as written, applies to the paragraph even though not expressly mentioned within it), there being no provision to delay it. While my reading would hold that there would not be a significant gap between the election and taking up the post, the reason to have a delay between election and appointment presumably applies equally to such elections – and the fact that you asked the question and there are other answers shows that the wording of the standing order could certainly benefit from further amendment.

      • Lord Norton
        Lord Norton
        01/05/2011 at 5:06 pm

        JH: Having re-read the report a number of times, and in the light of the helpful comments on this thread, I am inclined to agree both in terms of interpretation and the conclusion you draw.

  5. MilesJSD
    01/05/2011 at 3:23 am

    The big flaw in both Old and New Rules, Laws Constitutions, and Fundamental-Faiths, is that they are underlyingly and overarchingly falsely-premissed upon there being not only oodles of civilisational and governance time to be wasted (and destructively, life-extinctingly so)

    but that Earth II
    (that higher-experts than The Lords have identified as being essential, to support just the 11 civilisations and 7 billion humans thereof in their today-existing lifestyles, as of the date when “How Many People Can Live On Planet Earth” went On Air probably more than year ago)
    that that Second-Planet-Earth has already been found, colonised, and industrially-tied to Earth I Humankind’s Global-Economy (by our Earth I Expert Human Race) such that at least one-half of that Earth II’s Resources, both Renewable and Non-Renewable, are already being fed into Earth I Civilisations’ Global-Economies and Sustain-worthy “Social Traditions*”.

    Well, that is what Earth I Experts-In-Power, Experts-in-Planning & Budgeting, Experts-in- “Education & Human Development”, and Experts-in-Sociology, Health & Lifestyling, have constituted, legislated and regulated to be The Case;
    and are still further-planning to be The Future Case.

    * Great Britain Prince Charles put forward this great and well-spoken but glaringly oxymoronic commitment to His essential Global Reform, namely into New Resilient Natural Systems & Nationally Resilient Economies, and Resilient Societies, but retaining and promoting all the old traditional social-values, of all of The People.
    (Spoken by Him to the European Parliament February 2011).
    So you are apparently in “good company” in thinking there is plenty of time and super-abundances of lifesupports and of social-traditions;
    but more evidently you are “possessed” by such insidiously powerful negatively-altering-states-of-consciousness that your governance already has the Whole Human Race tied to the Impossibility of Derivable-Time and of Derivable-Finite-Resources – as if Time can be as negatively-geared and borrowed as Big-Money is.

    Omitting to budget aright only leaves all doors wide-open to budgeting wrongly; whether in Human energies, timeframes, things, places, or monies –
    or all five;

    plus the contingency sixth budgeting, “last-ditch” prevention of English-Speaking Civilisations’ second and final foot inexorably sliding into The Grave, too.

    How truly serious and singly-focused has British Parliament ever been, then, if it can stumble along thus so blind not only to Other-Powers’ gaffs but to its own, into the “bargain” ?

  6. Gareth Howell
    01/05/2011 at 11:15 am

    An Ad hoc solution would perfectly suffice, in a chamber without teeth.

    ONE measly suggested change for 19 long meetings!

    • Lord Norton
      Lord Norton
      01/05/2011 at 2:19 pm

      Gareth Howell: This has nothing to do with the report of the Leader’s Group on the Working Practices of the House.

  7. Gareth Howell
    01/05/2011 at 3:49 pm


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