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.
The principle is to always 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. For example, the Speaker will vote:
- in favour of early readings of bills
- against amendments to bills
- against the final enactment of a bill
- against motions of no confidence
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.
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