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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 June 2006, 15:57 GMT 16:57 UK
Lords speaker line-up is unveiled
House of Lords during the Queen's Speech, when peers wear robes
The House of Lords is to elect a new speaker
The full line-up for the election of the first House of Lords speaker has been unveiled.

Three women and six men are competing for the lucrative 101,000 a year role which comes with an apartment and a 10,000 gold and silk robe.

The new Speaker, the first in 600 years, will be elected by fellow peers for a five-year stint.

Ministers say the person will be the "ambassador" for the Lords, giving people an idea of how the place works.

Clock ticking

Nominations for the top job, which will replace the lord chancellor as presiding officer of the upper house, closed on Monday.

A final list of candidates has now been published, together with a 75-word election address from each of the contenders.

The speaker's role is not so much a figure of control or authority, but to help individual members regulate themselves
Lord Hunt

The candidates are:

  • Lord Boston of Faversham, a crossbencher and former MP and minister

  • Lord Elton, a former Conservative government minister

  • Baroness Fookes, Conservative peer and former Commons deputy speaker

  • Lord Grenfell, the chairman of the Lords European Union Committee

  • Baroness Hayman, former Labour MP and minister

  • Countess of Mar, independent peer who has been a deputy chairman of committees since 1997

  • Lord Redesdale, Liberal Democrat frontbench spokesman and scion of the Mitford family

  • Lord Richard, former Labour Leader of the Lords

  • Viscount Ullswater, a Conservative peer and a current deputy chairman of committees.

Limited powers

The new role of Speaker is being created because of Tony Blair's attempt four years ago to abolish the position of lord chancellor.

He or she will be limited to serving two terms.

As well as the salary and expenses, they will also have use of part of the lord chancellor's apartment in the Lords in return for sitting on the woolsack (which is where the Lord Chancellor currently sits) for about three hours a day.

Lords' officials say the apartment will be used for receiving foreign dignatories and although it includes overnight accommodation, it will not be a grace-and-favour residence.

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, have a say whether or not to allow short debates on urgent issues but they will not have any of the powers the Commons' Speaker has to intervene.

Work and Pensions Minister Lord Hunt said he doubted the job would be limited to about 12 hours a week as there was "a lot of other work to do, committee meetings and a general leadership role".

He also defended the need for a 10,000 gown as "reasonable" and "an indication of their role and status".

But Lord Redesdale, a contender for the post, who admits he is "not a real front-runner", said he did not believe the speaker will be able to tell the other peers "to do anything they do not want to do".

"If I get the job I'll do as little as possible," he said.

Ballot papers will be distributed on 7 June for postal voters. The election will be begin on 28 June, with the result announced on 4 July.

The winner will be announced in the House of Lords at 1435 BST on 4 July.

Race on to find new Lords speaker
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