Robes and cocked hats: how the Speaker’s election is confirmed

June 22, 2009 at 7:14 pm Leave a comment


The Prime Minister will send a message to the Queen informing her of the election of John Bercow as Speaker of the House of Commons.

A moment of Parliamentary theatre follows.

The Lords Commissioners instructed by the Queen are collectively known as the Royal Commission.

It comprises of five Lords Commissioners, all privy counsellors, including the Lord Chancellor.

The others are Baroness de Souza, convenor of the crossbench peers, and the leaders of the Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem peers, Baroness Royall, Lord Strathclyde and Lord McNally.

“The Lords Commissioners enter the Chamber by the door on the Spiritual side near the Throne, all in their Parliament robes and all except the Lord Chancellor wearing their cocked hats,” according to

“They take their seats on a form placed between the Throne and the Woolsack.

“The Lord Chancellor puts on his tricorn hat.

“The Lord Chancellor sits in the centre; the senior in precedence of the other Lords Commissioners sits on his right and the next senior on his left, the remaining two in order of seniority on the right and left of these respectively.”

The Lord Chancellor is actually an MP, Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary. He commands the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod:

“Let the Commons know that the Lords Commissioners desire their immediate attendance in this House to hear the Commission read.”

Black Rod summons the Commons, who come to the bar of the House of Lords, as they do at the State Opening of Parliament.

“The Commons proceed from their Chamber and advance to the Bar of the House of Lords, bowing three times, the first time at the step, the second time midway between the step and the Bar, the third time at the Bar.

“Each bow is acknowledged by the Lords Commissioners. Male Commissioners raise their hats; women Commissioners do not.

“The Commission is read by the Reading Clerk at the Table. He bows to each Lord Commissioner as he is named, and the Commissioner responds by raising his hat. Women Commissioners keep their hats on.

“The Commons withdraw, with three bows which are acknowledged as on their arrival.

“The Lord Chancellor leaves the Chamber by the door on the spiritual side near the Throne. Then the Deputy Serjeant-at-Arms takes up the Mace from the Woolsack and the Lord Speaker leaves the House by the Bar.

“The remaining Commissioners leave the Chamber by the door on the spiritual side near the Throne, and disrobe.”

MPs return to the Commons with the new Speaker.

The Lords Commissioners perform the same ceremony to dissolve Parliament.


9.45 pm

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): My Lords, I beg to acquaint the House that a Commission has been issued under the Great Seal to several Lords therein named authorising the said Lords to declare in the name and on behalf of Her Majesty, Her Majesty’s approbation of the choice of the Commons of Mr John Bercow to be their Speaker.

Then, the Lords Commissioners (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon, Lord Strathclyde, Lord McNally, Baroness D’Souza and the Lord Chancellor) directed Black Rod to let the Commons know that they desired their immediate attendance in this House.

When the Commons arrived, the Speaker-elect said:

My Lords, I have to acquaint your Lordships that Her Majesty’s faithful Commons, in obedience to the Royal Command, have, in the exercise of their undoubted rights and privileges, proceeded to the election of a Speaker, and that their choice has fallen on me.

I therefore present myself at your Lordships’ Bar and submit myself with all humility for Her Majesty’s gracious Approbation.

The Lord Chancellor: My Lords and Members of the House of Commons, it not being convenient to Her Majesty to be personally present here at his time, a Commission has been issued under the Great Seal, commanding us and several other Lords therein named to notify and declare Her Majesty’s Approbation of the choice of Her faithful Commons of Mr John Bercow to be their Speaker, which Commission you will now hear read.

A Royal Commission was read.

The Lord Chancellor: Mr John Bercow, we have it in command from Her Majesty to declare Her Majesty’s entire confidence in your talents, diligence and sufficiency to fulfil the important duties of the high office of Speaker of the House of Commons to which you have been chosen by that House, and in obedience to the Commission which has been read and by virtue of the authority therein contained, we do declare Her Majesty’s royal allowance and confirmation of you, Sir, as Speaker of the House of Commons.

The Speaker of the House of Commons said:

My Lords, I submit myself with all humility and gratitude to Her Majesty’s royal will and pleasure.

I pray that if, in the discharge of my duties and in the maintenance of the rights and privileges of the Commons House of Parliament, I should inadvertently fall into error, it may be imputed to me alone and not to Her Majesty’s faithful Commons.

The Speaker and the Commons then returned to their Chamber.


Entry filed under: Commons, Lords, Procedure. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Former Speaker Michael Martin stands down as an MP John Bercow elected Speaker of the House of Commons

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