Briefing paper

The new Speaker of the House of Commons: key challenges

Parliament United Kingdom

The new Speaker of the Commons – the 158th in its history – will take office at a time of challenges to the role and working of the Commons that are unparalleled in modern times.

This paper sets out nine key challenges facing the House of Commons as the new Speaker takes office. It is not an exhaustive list, and all the candidates for Speaker will have their own views about what problems the House should address. Instead, we focus on the most immediate issues awaiting the new Speaker.

The first set are about the Speaker’s visible role: chairing debates, acting as a referee and ensuring the House’s rules and procedures are followed. In the last two years, some specific procedures have been used in unprecedented ways by MPs determined to assert their rights. The new Speaker will need to address broader questions about how to handle a more assertive Commons.    

The second set relate to the management and administration of the Commons. In that role, the new Speaker must work to address the bullying and harassment of staff in Parliament, as well as lead the Commons through the costly restoration work that the Palace of Westminster needs.

The paper says it is crucial the new Speaker set out how they intend to fulfil these different parts of the role – and consider how they will work with others to address the issues facing the Commons.

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