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Speaker’s Statement

Volume 621: debated on Monday 6 February 2017

I wish to make a short statement to the House.

A fortnight ago, the House of Commons Commission endorsed a proposition upon which I confess that I am myself very keen—having, indeed, originally suggested it myself—that a wider range of less senior procedural Clerks should have an opportunity to sit at the Table alongside more experienced colleagues to familiarise themselves with Chamber practice and procedure. At the same time, the Commission endorsed a proposition from the Clerk of the House, reflecting the overwhelming view of his colleagues, that Clerks should no longer wear wigs at the Table in the Chamber. They will also cease to wear court dress, but they will continue to wear gowns, so as to be distinguishable as experts in parliamentary procedure—not lawyers, and certainly not Members. Details are in a letter from the Clerk of the House to the Chair of the Procedure Committee, which is available on the Committee’s website and in the Vote Office.

Colleagues will be pleased to learn that this change will in the longer term save money. It will, I believe, be welcomed by those Clerks who serve or look forward to serving at the Table, and it will moreover, in my view—which I recognise may not be universally shared—convey to the public a marginally less stuffy and forbidding image of this Chamber at work. The new regime will start soon after we return from the short February recess.