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Thursday, 16 November, 2000, 11:15 GMT
Wanted: one Black Rod
Black Rod
Black Rod summons MPs to hear the Queen's Speech
Wanted: Administrator with diplomatic skills. Involves fancy dress and some door knocking.

Advertisements for the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod and Secretary for the Great Lord Chamberlain, or simply Black Rod, have appeared in UK newspapers, on an equal opportunities basis for the first time since the post was created by King Henry VIII.

Traditionally the position has always gone to a former senior military man and was informally rotated between the Army, Navy and Royal Air Force.

The ability to work in a complex political environment is essential

Black Rod advert
But the role of Black Rod, who ceremonially summons MPs from the Commons to attend the Queen's speech, is now open to the wider public offering an annual salary of up to 101,250.

The Lords finance and staff sub-committee, which includes the leaders of the three main parties in the upper House, decided that when the present Black Rod, General Sir Edward Jones, steps down next May it should be thrown open to all comers, including women.

Advertisements in The Times on Friday and The Guardian on Saturday read: "The post is a high-profile and challenging one suitable to senior employees in the public or private sectors with proven leadership and administrative skills.

"The ability to work in a complex political environment is essential."

The appointment is for three years initially, renewable for up to a maximum six years.

Royal duties

The salary is between 63,000 and 101,250 - the equivalent of Senior Civil Service Band 5.

The Black Rod is best known for his role in the state opening of parliament.

He ceremonially uses and ebony stick to bang on the doors of the Commons chamber - which are traditionally shut in his face as he approaches - to summon MPs to attend the Queen's speech in the Lords.

It remains closed until Black Rod has knocked three times.

He also has an administrative role with responsibility for the smooth working of the upper House, as well as for security in the chamber and the precincts.

The job also involves royal duties including attending the Order of the Garter ceremonies at Windsor Castle.

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See also:

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State Opening of Parliament
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