BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 May 2006, 14:31 GMT 15:31 UK
Race on to find new Lords speaker
House of Lords during the Queen's Speech, when peers wear robes
The House of Lords is to elect a new speaker
Seven peers are preparing to battle it out to become the first elected speaker of the House of Lords.

Nomination papers are due to go out this week to choose the man or woman who will replace the lord chancellor as presiding officer of the upper house.

James Landale, BBC News 24's chief political correspondent, says at least three women and four men are to compete for the lucrative 101,000 a year role.

They include ex-Labour ministers Lord Carter and Baroness Hayman.

Historic change

Several of the potential runners are already deputy speakers in the Lords.

They include independent peer the Countess of Mar, Conservative Baroness Fookes, a former Commons deputy speaker, Viscount Ullswater, a Conservative elected hereditary peer; and Lord Grenfell, the chairman of the Lords European Union committee.

Lord Redesdale, the Liberal Democrat frontbencher and scion of the Mitford family, completes the expected line-up.

Lord Steel
David Steel is considering whether to stand

Former Liberal leader David Steel, who was presiding officer of the Scottish Parliament, is also considering standing but has yet to make a final decision.

The new role of Speaker - the first in the Lords' 600 year history - is being created because of Tony Blair's attempt four years ago to abolish the position of lord chancellor.

The new lord speaker will be elected by fellow peers for a five years stint.

As well as the salary and expenses, they will also have a free flat in the Lords in return for sitting on the woolsack for about three hours a day.

Limited powers

The new speaker will not have to wear a wig - they will just wear a gown in the chamber.

And their authority will be limited. He or she will be able to help peers out on points of procedure.

They will also have a say in whether or not to allow short debates, known as private notice questions, on urgent issues.

But they will not have any of the powers the Commons Speaker has to intervene and tell peers what to do.

Nominations close on 5 June and the election will be held on 28 June, with the result announced on 4 July.

All current peers have a vote. The election will be held under the single transferable vote system, whereby peers can order their preferences.

All contenders are banned from discrediting opponents and must restrict their election addresses to just 75 words.

Bridget Prentice MP on Lords reform

Timeline: The House of Lords
28 Mar 06 |  Politics


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific