SPEAKER, the name given to the presiding officer in either house of parliament. In the house of lords, the lord-chancellor, or lord keeper of the great seal, is ex-oSica, speaker, and one or more deputy-speakers are appointed by commission to take his place in his absence. Since 1851 it has been the practice to appoint but one deputy-speaker, who is the chairman of the lords' committee, and should lie also be absent, the house can choose a speaker pro tempers.• The speaker of the lords may speak or vote on any question, and has no more authority than any other member of the house.
In the house of commons, the speaker is a member elected to that office at the desire of the crown, and confirmed by the royal approbation given iu the house of lords. A. similar office seems to have existed as early as the reign of Henry III., when Peter de Montfort signed and sealed an answer of the parliament to pope Alexander, Tice totias communitaas ; but the title speaker was first given to sir T. Hungerford in the reign of Edward III. The speaker of the house of commons presides over the deliberations of the house, and enforces the rules for preserving order: he puts the question and declares the determination of the house. As the representative of the house, he communicates its resolutions to others, and conveys its thanks or its censures. He is thus the mouth
piece of the house, whence his title seems to be derived. He issues warrants in execu tion of the orders of the house for the commitment of offenders, for the issue of writs, the attendance of witnesses, the bringing up prisoners in custody, etc. The mace is borne before him by the sergeant-at-arms when he enters or leaves the house; when he is in the chair it is left on the table, and it accompanies him on all state occasions. He cannot speak or vote on any question, but on an equality of voices he has a casting vote. Both by ancient custom and legislative declaration, he is entitled to take precedence of all commoners.
Down to the year 1853 no provision existed for supplying the place of the speaker of the house of commons when he was unavoidably absent; but in that year the house, with consent of the crown, resolved that in his absence the chairman of the committee of ways and means should take the chair, and as deputy-speaker he was in 1855 invested, both by resolution of the house and by act of parliament, with the same authority pro tempore-as the speaker.