Speaker Denison's rule

Speaker Denison's rule is a constitutional convention established by John Evelyn Denison, who was Speaker of the British House of Commons from 1857 to 1872, regarding how the Speaker decides on their casting vote in the event of a tie in the number of votes cast in a division.

Evelyn Denison

In 1867, when a tie arose on a motion on Fellowships at Trinity College, Dublin, Denison gave his casting vote against the motion, declaring that any decision must be approved by the majority. The rule as subsequently adopted is that the Speaker, in any division upon a bill, should vote to leave a bill in its existing form.[1]

The principle is always to vote in favour of further debate, or, where it has been previously decided to have no further debate or in some specific instances, to vote in favour of the status quo.[2][3] Thus, the Speaker will vote:

  • against the final reading of a bill (and against holding such readings immediately rather than in the future, to allow for time to consider the matter)
  • in favour of earlier readings of bills (and in favour of holding such readings immediately rather than in the future, to allow for further debate)
  • against amendments to bills
  • against motions of no confidence
  • in favour of disagreeing with amendments made by the House of Lords

The thinking behind the rule is that change should only occur if an actual majority vote is in favour of the change.

Speaker Denison's rule is now a guiding principle in many other bodies that have neutral chairpersons.[4]

Tied votes in the British House of CommonsEdit

In the case of a Committee of the Whole House, the presiding officer is the Chairman of Ways and Means or a Deputy Chairman. In other cases of plenary session, the presiding officer is the Speaker or a Deputy Speaker. Votes of smaller Commons committees are not listed.

Date Presiding Officer Issue Ayes and Noes Position of casting vote Reference
3 April 2019 Speaker John Bercow Brexit indicative vote amendment 310 No [5][6]
22 July 1993 Speaker Betty Boothroyd Treaty of Maastricht (Social Protocol)vote was later expunged [n 1] 317 No [9]
21 June 1990 Deputy Speaker Sir Paul Dean Report-stage amendment to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill's amendment of the Abortion Act 1967 197 No [10]
30 January 1980 Deputy Speaker Bernard Weatherill Motion for leave to bring in the Televising of Parliament Bill 201 Aye [11]
17 July 1978 Deputy Speaker Godman Irvine That the House disagreed with a Lords amendment to the Scotland Bill 286 Aye [12]
11 November 1976 Deputy Speaker Myer Galpern That the House disagreed with a Lords amendment to the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill 309 Aye [13]
10 November 1976 Speaker George Thomas That the House disagreed with Lords amendments to the Dock Work Regulation Bill 310 Aye [14]
10 November 1976 Speaker George Thomas That the House disagreed with Lords amendment to the Dock Work Regulation Bill 310 Aye [15]
10 November 1976 Deputy Speaker Myer Galpern That the House disagreed with Lords amendments to the Dock Work Regulation Bill 309 Aye [16]
27 May 1976 Speaker George Thomas Amendment to a procedural motion relating to the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill 303 No [17]
2 June 1965 Temporary Chairman Herbert Butcher Motion to retain wording of the Finance (No. 2) Bill 281 Aye [18]
12 March 1958 Deputy Speaker Gordon Touche Motion to add a new clause to the Maintenance Orders Bill 153 No [19]
24 June 1952 Deputy Speaker Charles MacAndrew Motion for leave to bring in the Licensing at Airports Bill 173 Aye [20]
1 March 1951 Deputy Chairman Charles MacAndrew Motion that a clause stand part of the Reserve and Auxilary Forces (Training) Bill 82 Aye [21]
1 May 1950 Chairman James Milner Motion to reduce by £1000 the budget estimate for salaries in the Ministry Of Transport 278 No [22]
12 April 1938 Speaker Edward Fitzroy Motion for leave to bring in the Jewish Citizenship Bill (to extend Palestinian Citizenship to Jews outside Mandatory Palestine) 144 Aye [23]
3 April 1905 Speaker William Court Gully Motion for an instruction to the committee dealing with the London County Council (Tramways) Bill. 171 No [24]
25 July 1887 Speaker Arthur Peel Motion to adjourn debate on the second reading of the Marriages Confirmation (Antwerp) Bill[n 2] 75 Aye [25]
15 June 1870 Speaker Evelyn Denison Motion to put the question on the second reading of the Representation of the People Acts Amendment Bill 181 Aye [27]
10 June 1868 Speaker Evelyn Denison Motion to give a second reading to the Married Women's Property Bill now rather than in six months[n 3] 123 Aye [28]
24 July 1867 Speaker Evelyn Denison Motion to declare the undesirability of restricting Fellowships and Foundation Scholarships of Trinity College, Dublin to believers in the established Church of Ireland 108 No [29]
7 June 1866 Speaker Evelyn Denison Motion to adjourn debate on the motion that 'Mr. Speaker do leave the Chair' (and that the House go into Committee on the Test Abolition Act 1867) 46 Aye [30]
1 July 1864 Speaker Evelyn Denison Third reading of the Tests Abolition (Oxford) Bill 170 Aye[n 4] [31]
19 June 1861 Speaker Evelyn Denison Motion to give a third reading to the Church Rates Abolition Bill now rather than in six months[n 3] 274 No [32]
10 May 1860 Speaker Evelyn Denison Amendment to the Fisheries (Scotland) Bill 37 No [33]

NotesEdit

  1. ^ There was believed to be a tied vote on an amendment to the motion, but it was quickly discovered that one extra "Aye" vote had been erroneously counted.[7] Prior to the counting error having been noted, the Speaker did give a casting vote of "No",[8] although this was later expunged when the error became clear.[1]
  2. ^ The bill proposed to legalise marriages invalidly solemnised in Antwerp by Arthur Potts, in particular that of Edward Langworthy to Mildred Palliser Long in 1883.[25][26]
  3. ^ a b A motion to give in reading in six or three months was a legal fiction tantamount to refusing to give it a reading at all.
  4. ^ The immediately subsequent motion "That the bill do now pass" was defeated;[31] the changes proposed by the 1864 bill were effected by the Universities Tests Act 1871.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "House of Commons: Tied Divisions". United Kingdom Election Results. David Boothroyd. Archived from the original on 5 January 2008. Retrieved 23 June 2009.
  2. ^ MacDonagh, Michael (1914). The Speaker of the House. London: Methuen. p. 74.
  3. ^ Factsheet P9: Divisions (PDF). London: House of Commons Information Office. 2010. p. 6.
  4. ^ "Exercise of the Casting Vote of the Chair". Parliament of New South Wales. Archived from the original on 15 June 2016.
  5. ^ "Brexit: Bercow uses casting vote after first Commons tie in 26 years to block backbench indicative votes – live news". The Guardian. 3 April 2019. (See entries timed 17:22-17:52.)
  6. ^ "Business of the House". Hansard – Parliament UK.
  7. ^ "Points of Order – 23 July 1993". Hansard – Parliament UK.
  8. ^ "Treaty Of Maastricht (Social Protocol)". Hansard – Parliament UK.
  9. ^ "Treaty of Maastricht (Social Protocol)". Hansard – Parliament UK.
  10. ^ "Amendment Of Law Relating To Termination Of Pregnancy". Hansard – Parliament UK.
  11. ^ "Televising Of Parliament". Hansard – Parliament UK.
  12. ^ "Scotland Bill". Hansard – Parliament UK.
  13. ^ "Aircraft And Shipbuilding Industries Bill". Hansard – Parliament UK.
  14. ^ "Dock Work Regulation Bill". Hansard – Parliament UK.
  15. ^ "Dock Work Regulation Bill". Hansard – Parliament UK.
  16. ^ "Dock Work Regulation Bill". Hansard – Parliament UK.
  17. ^ "Aircraft And Shipbuilding Industries Bill (Standing Orders)". Hansard - Parliament UK.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. ^ "Finance (No. 2) Bill". Hansard – Parliament UK.
  19. ^ "Maintenance Orders Bill". Hansard – Parliament UK.
  20. ^ "Licensing at Airports Bill". Hansard – Parliament UK.
  21. ^ "Reserve and Auxiliary Forces (Training) Bill". Hansard – Parliament UK.
  22. ^ "Road Haulage". Hansard – Parliament UK.
  23. ^ "Jewish Citizenship Bill". Hansard – Parliament UK.
  24. ^ "London County Council (Tramways) Bill". Hansard – Parliament UK.
  25. ^ a b "Marriages Confirmation (Antwerp) Bill". Hansard – Parliament UK.
  26. ^ "The Langworthy Case". The Pall Mall Budget. XXXV (983): 16. 28 July 1887.
  27. ^ "Representation of the People Acts Amendment Bill". Hansard – Parliament UK.
  28. ^ "Married Women's Property Bill". Hansard – Parliament UK.
  29. ^ "Trinity College (Dublin)". Hansard – Parliament UK.
  30. ^ "Transubstantiation Etc. Declaration Abolition Bill". Hansard – Parliament UK.
  31. ^ a b "Tests Abolition (Oxford) Bill". Hansard – Parliament UK.
  32. ^ "Church Rates Abolition Bill". Hansard – Parliament UK.
  33. ^ "Fisheries (Scotland) Bill". Hansard – Parliament UK.

External linksEdit