The Lord Speakership

Baroness Hayman

Next Wednesday, peers vote to elect a new Lord Speaker in succession to Baromess Hayman, who is not seeking re-election having completed her five-year term of office.  (She was eligible to seek re-election for a second and final term.)  I recorded an interview earlier today for BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour on the competition to replace her.  There are six candidates: Lord Colwyn (Con), Lord Desai (Lab), Baroness D’Souza (cross-bench), Lord Goodlad (Con), Baroness Harris of Richmond (Lib Dem), and Lord Redesdale (Lib Dem).  Following hustings organised by the Hansard Society, it is anyone’s guess as to who will win.  We employ the dreaded Alternative Vote (AV).  I doubt if any candidate will get 50%+1 in the first round, so it will then depend on redistributed votes from candidates as they are eliminated.  Though it is unclear who will come first, I am reasonably sure Lord Redesdale will come bottom: his platform is to do as little as possible for the money.

One of the key points I made in the interview is that the office is a distinct one.  We are not looking for anyone who is good at keeping order or deciding business or speakers in the chamber.  We are a self-regulating chamber, so the presiding officer has no powers while sitting on the Woolsack.  The power rests with members collectively (albeit exercised on their behalf by the Leader or the duty whip).  What we are looking for is someone who is a good ambassador, who can be the face of the House of Lords to the rest of the world.  Baroness Hayman did an outstanding job in developing an outreach problem – not least the ‘Peers in Schools’ initiative – and we are keen to have someone who will be able to follow in her footsteps.

Voting is on 13 July, but the result is not announced until the following Monday, 18 July.  The new Lord Speaker will take up office on 1 September.

About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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11 Responses to The Lord Speakership

  1. tory boy says:

    Lord Norton who do you think will get the job? What is the feeling in the tea rooms i agree that Baroness Hayman has been v good. However i hope that Baroness D’Souza is elected.

  2. Frank W. Summers III says:

    Lord Norton,

    I noticed that you described Enoch Powell’s unconscious affection for a maxim of American football while not for the words that make up the maxim. That paramount maxim in this very technical game is “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. While arguably the Woolsack works quite well, it was intended to be a symbol of the economic power of the United Kingdom. I doubt that this is always understood by observers today — perhaps that could be changed: “Lord of the Crate of Harry Potter Books” may have a certain ring to it and could go with the new Lord Speaker development. If this change is enacted I would be willing to do without acknowledgement of any kind…

    • Lord Norton says:

      Frank W. Summers III: I fear you may have a long wait. However, if you want to hear the maxim ‘If it an’t broke, don’t fix it’, just keep listening to the debate about the future of the House of Lords.

  3. Chris K says:

    I’ve never really understood arbitrary limits on the number of terms someone can serve. It seemed odd to me that The Terminator couldn’t carry on as Governor of California just because he served a year of his predecessor’s term.

    Lady Hayman should be very proud of her service. She’s certainly going to be a tough act to follow. My money’s on Lady D’Souza. I think Lord Redesdale will do better than expected; honesty will win him quite a few votes I imagine.

    A doubly exciting day: the 18th July is the same day I find out whether I can return to university next year!

  4. macarthursmutterings says:

    When will you be up for this job, that’s what I want to know

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