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?