Clerk of the House of Commons
|Under Clerk of the Parliaments|
To wait upon the Commons
|Office of the Clerk and Chief Executive|
|Residence||Outbuilding, Palace of Westminster|
|Inaugural holder||Robert de Melton|
first permanent appointment
The formal name for the position held by the Clerk of the House of Commons is Under Clerk of the Parliaments. The chief clerk of the House of Lords is the Clerk of the Parliaments.
The Clerk of the House is appointed by the sovereign by Letters Patent, in which they are styled "Under Clerk of the Parliaments [...] to attend upon the Commons". Before 1748, the Clerkship of the House of Commons could be purchased until Jeremiah Dyson (then Clerk of the House) ended the practice of purchase when he left the Clerkship.
The Clerk of the House is the principal constitutional adviser to the house, and adviser on all its procedure and business, including parliamentary privilege, and frequently appears before select and joint committees examining constitutional and parliamentary matters. As with all the members of the House Service, he is politically entirely impartial and is not a civil servant. Until 1 January 2008, when the reforms to the house's governance proposed by the Tebbit Review of management and services of the house were implemented, the clerk was the head of the Clerk's Department. He sits at the table of the house, in the right-hand chair (the left-hand chair, looking towards the Speaker’s chair) for part of every sitting. The historic role of the clerks at the table is to record the decisions of the house (not what is said, which is recorded by Hansard).This they (but not the clerk) still do. The clerks at the table used to wear court dress with wing collar and white tie, a bob (barrister’s) wig and a silk gown. However, as of February 2017 the clerks will only have to wear gowns. For the State Opening of Parliament and other state occasions, the Clerk of the House wears full court dress with breeches, and a lace jabot and cuffs.
List of Clerks of the House of Commons
- Parliamentary Corporate Bodies Act 1992, section 2(2): "The individual who for the time being is by letters patent appointed to the office of the Under Clerk of the Parliaments (and who is customarily referred to as the Clerk of the House of Commons) shall be the Corporate Officer of the Commons."
- "Clerk of the House of Commons". erskinemay.parliament.uk. Houses of Parliament. Retrieved 16 February 2021.
- Rogers, Robert (18 September 2012). Who Goes Home? A Parliamentary Miscellany. Biteback Publishing. ISBN 9781849544801.
- "Clerk of the House of Commons". www.parliament.uk. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
- "Speaker Bercow says Commons clerks' wigs to get chop – BBC News". BBC News. Retrieved 2017-02-06.
- "Clerk of the House and Chief Executive". Parliament.uk. 24 July 2014.
- "No. 27164". The London Gazette. 13 February 1900. p. 999.
- "House of Commons Commission decisions, 16 October 2014". parliament.uk. 20 October 2014.
- "Clerk of the House of Commons appointment: Dr John Benger". GOV.UK. Prime Minister's Office, 10 Downing Street. 5 February 2019. Retrieved 15 February 2019.