Father of the House
Father of the House is a term that has by tradition been unofficially bestowed on certain members of some legislatures, most notably the House of Commons in the United Kingdom. In some legislatures the term refers to the oldest member, but in others it refers to the longest-serving member. The term Mother of the House or Mother of Parliament is also found, although the usage varies between countries. It is used simply as the female alternative to Father of the House, being applied when the relevant member is a woman.
- 1 United Kingdom
- 2 Australia
- 3 Canada
- 4 Germany
- 5 Hong Kong
- 6 Hungary
- 7 Israel
- 8 Ireland
- 9 Malaysia
- 10 New Zealand
- 11 Norway
- 12 Russia
- 13 Finland
- 14 Sweden
- 15 Serbia
- 16 Singapore
- 17 See also
- 18 References
- 19 External links
House of Commons
The Father of the House is a title that is by tradition bestowed on the senior member of the House of Commons who has the longest unbroken service. If two or more members have the same length of current uninterrupted service, then whoever was sworn in earliest, as listed in Hansard, is named as Father of the House.
In the House of Commons, the only conventional leadership required of the Father of the House is to preside over the election of a new Speaker whenever that office becomes vacant. The relevant Standing Order does not refer to this member by the title of "Father of the House", referring instead to the longest-serving member of the House present who is not a Minister of the Crown (meaning that if the longest-serving member is absent or is a government minister, the next person in line presides).
Dennis Skinner, Labour MP for Bolsover, also began continuous service at the 1970 general election, but was sworn in after Clarke. Should Clarke's service conclude before Skinner's, Skinner would be next in line to serve as Father of the House, however he has stated he would refuse.
The Father of the House is not necessarily the sitting member with the earliest date of first election. David Winnick was first elected in 1966, and was the last sitting member to have served in the 1960s, but he was defeated for re-election in 1970 and did not return to Parliament until 1979, serving until he lost his seat in 2017. Michael Foot was the only remaining member from the 1945 election between 1987 and 1992, but was never Father of the House because he had been out of Parliament between 1955 and a 1960 by-election. Similarly, though Sir Winston Churchill was first elected in 1900, he did not become Father of the House until 1959, because he had lost his seat in 1922, and did not return to the Commons until 1924.
House of Lords
The current Father of the House of Lords is Lord Carrington (Conservative), who became eligible to take his seat on his 21st birthday in 1940 (having succeeded to the title in 1938 while still a minor) and actually first took his seat in October 1945. After the House of Lords Act 1999 removed the automatic right of hereditary peers to sit in the House of Lords, Carrington (along with all former Leaders of the House who were hereditaries) was given a life peerage to enable him to continue to sit.
Should Carrington cease to be a Member of the House of Lords, Lord Denham (Conservative) who sat first on 13 December 1949, would become eligible to be Father of the House. He is a hereditary peer who was elected to remain in the House under the provisions of the 1999 Act.
The senior sitting life peer by date of creation is Baroness Masham of Ilton, who entered the House in 1970.
|Name||Entered House||Became Father||Left House||Party|
|The Earl of Mansfield||1840||?||1898||Conservative|
|The Lord Templemore||1842||1898||1906||Conservative|
|The Earl of Leicester||1844||1906||1909||Conservative|
|The Earl Nelson||1845||1909||1913||Conservative|
|The Earl of Ducie||1853||1913||1921||Liberal|
|The Earl of Coventry||1859||1921||1930||Conservative|
|The Marquess of Huntly||1869||1930||1937||Liberal|
|The Marquess of Ailsa||4 June 1872||1937||1938||Conservative|
|The Lord Grantley||24 May 1878||1938||1943||Conservative|
|The Lord Romilly||4 August 1920||1975?||1983||Conservative|
|The Lord Oranmore and Browne||26 July 1927||1983?||1999||Conservative|
|The Earl Jellicoe||25 July 1939||1999||2007||Conservative|
|The Lord Carrington||9 October 1945||2007||Incumbent||Conservative|
House of Commons of Northern Ireland (defunct)
|Name||Entered House||Became Father||Left House||Party|
|J. M. Andrews||1921||1949||1953||UUP|
|The Viscount Brookeborough||1929||1965||1968||UUP|
|Sir Norman Stronge, Bt||1938||1968||1969||UUP|
In Australia, the current member of the House of Representatives with the longest period of continuous service, whether a Minister or not, is known as "Father of the House". Similarly, the current member of the Senate with the longest period of continuous service is known as "Father of the Senate". The longer serving of the two Fathers is called "Father of the Parliament".
As in Britain, these terms have no official status. However, unlike Britain:
- the term Father of the House/Senate applies where there is one member whose continuous service is unequivocally longer than any other, as determined by the date of election (House) or the date of the start of the term (Senate). Where two or more members have equal length of continuous service, more than any other members, they are considered joint Fathers of the House/Senate. Some state parliaments, however, follow the British convention of giving precedence by order of swearing into office.
- the Father of the House and the Father of the Senate in Australia have no parliamentary role at all. The election of the presiding officers is conducted by the Clerk of the House and the Clerk of the Senate respectively.
Philip Ruddock, who was first elected in 1973, was the Father of the House of Representatives and Father of the Parliament from 1 September 1998 until his retirement on 9 May 2016. He was succeeded by Senator Ian Macdonald as father of the parliament and Kevin Andrews as father of the House.
The longest-serving member of the House of Commons who is not a cabinet minister is known as the Dean of the House, and presides over the election of the Speaker at the beginning of each Parliament. The same term is used for the equivalent position in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Starting with the Frankfurter Nationalversammlung (Frankfurt Parliament) of 1848, all democratic German parliaments, had a Father (or Mother) of the House, usually called Alterspräsident (President by right of age). This tradition has been carried on to today's Parliament (Bundestag), whose rules of procedure mandate that the Alterspräsident will preside over the Parliament (Bundestag) at the start of each legislative period.
Following tradition, the Alterspräsident will first ascertain himself that he is the oldest member of the Bundestag by stating his birth date and asking if anyone is present who was born before his date. If no older member of the Bundestag is present (which is usually the case) he will formally declare that he indeed is the Alterspräsident and will start proceedings.
As acting President of the Bundestag (Bundestagspräsident) he delivers the first programmatic speech and oversees the elections of the President of the Bundestag and the Vicepresidents of the Bundestag (Bundestagsvizepräsidenten). He then stands down and yields his power to the newly elected Bundestagspräsident.
As the position of Father of the House usually draws a certain public attention and traditionally belongs by right to the oldest member of the Bundestag (regardless of their length of service), the Party of Democratic Socialism (the predecessor of Die Linke, which consistently placed fifth in Bundestag elections during the 1990s) twice nominated old independents (Stefan Heym in 1994, Fred Gebhardt in 1998) on their party lists in order to obtain this office (and thereby have the chance to give the opening speech). This was considered a manipulation of the system, and neither of the two PDS Alterspräsidenten ended up serving a complete term (Heym resigned in 1996, and Gebhardt died in 2000). In 2017, the President of the Bundestag suggested changing the practice in order to have the member with the longest (continuous) service in the Bundestag serve as Alterspräsident, rather than the oldest member, apparently in an effort to prevent the AfD from seizing the office much in the way that the PDS had in the 90s.
|1st||1949–1953||Paul Löbe||1949–1953||SPD||longtime Reichstagspräsident during the Weimar Republic|
|2nd||1953–1957||Marie Elisabeth Lüders||1953–1957||FDP||stood in for Konrad Adenauer, the oldest member,
who refused the office due to his position as Chancellor
|3rd||1957–1961||Marie Elisabeth Lüders||1957–1961||FDP|
|Konrad Adenauer||1963–1965||CDU/CSU||resumed the office after his resignation as Chancellor|
|5th||1965–1969||Konrad Adenauer||1965–1967||CDU/CSU||died in 1967|
|8th||1976–1980||Ludwig Erhard||1976–1977||CDU/CSU||died in 1977|
|Johann Baptist Gradl||1977–1980||CDU/CSU|
|10th||1983–1987||Willy Brandt||1983–1987||SPD||stood in for Egon Franke|
|12th||1990–1994||Willy Brandt||1990–1992||SPD||died in 1992|
|13th||1994–1998||Stefan Heym||1994–1995||PDS||resigned his seat in 1995|
|14th||1998–2002||Fred Gebhardt||1998–2000||PDS||died in 2000|
|18th||2013–2017||Heinz Riesenhuber||since 2013||CDU/CSU|
In Hong Kong, there is no such term as "Father of the House". Instead, the longest-serving member is called the Senior Unofficial Member and is the highest-ranking unofficial member in the Executive Council and the Legislative Council until the post is abolished in 1995 and 1992 respectively. The current longest serving members of the Executive Council and the Legislative Council are Laura Cha and James To.
In Hungary, term refers to the oldest member of the National Assembly (previously House of Representatives, the lower house). Before the open session, the senior chair and junior notaries review the mandates of all the elected MPs in addition to their own. He or she presides over the newly elected parliament until the appointment of the officials.
|Member||Party||Entered Parliament||Became oldest member||Left House|
|Géza Malasits||MSZDP||1924||1945||1948 †|
|Ferenc Harrer||Ind.||1949||1949||1969 †|
|Kálmán Kéri||MDF||1990||1990||1994 †|
|László Varga||KDNP||1994||1994||2003 †|
In the beginning of each Knesset, before the election of a permanent speaker, there is a temporary speaker. In the past it was the oldest member of Knesset, now it is the longest-serving member. Michael Eitan is the most recent Knesset member to serve in this capacity, doing so from February 24 - March 30, 2010. In 2013 it was Benyamin Ben-Eliezer who had this position, and in 2015, it was Amir Peretz.
In the Republic of Ireland, the term Father of the Dáil is an unofficial title applied to the longest-serving Teachta Dála (TD) in Dáil Éireann, regardless of their position. The current Father is the former Taoiseach and Fine Gael party leader, Enda Kenny, TD, since the retirement of Séamus Pattison at the 2007 general election. On a number of occasions two or more people have shared the position of Father of the Dáil.
In Malaysia the term "Father of the House" is rarely used. Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah who was elected in 1974, has been the longest serving MP in the Dewan Rakyat. He is also the current oldest serving MP aged 80 years, 3 months.
In New Zealand, the term Father or Mother of the House, as an unofficial title, designates the longest-serving MP in the House of Representatives, regardless of their position. The Father of the House has no official role in Parliament. Peter Dunne, the leader of the United Future party, holds the title in the New Zealand Parliament, having served continuously since the 1984 general election.
In New Zealand's first election of 1853, the Bay of Islands electorate became the first to declare the election of a successful candidate, returning Hugh Carleton unopposed. In the subsequent General Assembly of 1854, Carleton liked to be known as the "Father of the House".
In Norway it is the representative of the Storting with longest seniority that is temporary Stortingspresident (speaker). Per Kristian Foss had this position in 2009 until Dag Terje Andersen was elected.
Traditionally when a new Russian parliament is formed the eldest deputy opens and leads the first session until a chairman is elected. In the history of the post-Soviet Dumas these were:
- 1993 Georgy Lukava - Liberal Democratic Party of Russia
- 1995 Grigory Galaziy - Our Home – Russia
- 1999 Yegor Ligachev - Communist Party of the Russian Federation
- 2003 Valentin Varennikov - Rodina
- 2007 Zhores Alferov - Communist Party of the Russian Federation
- 2011 Vladimir Dolgikh - United Russia
- 2011 Zhores Alferov - Communist Party of the Russian Federation
- 2016 Zhores Alferov - Communist Party of the Russian Federation
|Member||Became oldest member|
|Iisakki Hoikka||1907, 1908|
|John Hedberg||1908, 1909, 1909 , 1913|
|Leo Mechelin||1910, 1910, 1911, 1912, 1913|
|Rabbe Wrede||1917 , 1918, 1918|
|Artur Wuorimaa||1920, 1921|
|Waldemar Bergroth||1918, 1922 – 1926|
|Juho Torppa||1927, 1928, 1929|
|Anders Forsberg||1929 , 1930|
|Pehr Evind Svinhufvud||1930, 1931|
|K. J. Ståhlberg||1932, 1932|
|Matti Paasivuori||1933, 1934, 1935, 1935|
|Miina Sillanpää||1936 – 1947|
|Akseli Brander||1948 – 1950|
|Väinö Tanner||1951 – 1953|
|Matti Lahtela||1954 – 1957|
|Väinö Tanner||1958 – 1961|
|Raino Hallberg||1962 – 1965|
|Kustaa Tiitu||1966 – 1969|
|Rafael Paasio||1970 – 1975|
|Evald Häggblom||1975 , 1976|
|V. J. Sukselainen||1976, 1977, 1978|
|Mikko Kaarna||1979 – 1982|
|Tuure Junnila||1983 – 1986|
|Johannes Virolainen||1987 – 1989|
|Maunu Kohijoki||1991 – 1994|
|Martti Tiuri||1995 – 2002|
|Kalevi Lamminen||2003 – 2006|
|Claes Andersson||2007 – 2008|
|Jacob Söderman||2008- 2009-2010|
|Kauko Tuupainen||2011 – 2013|
|Pertti Salolainen||2015 –|
- Tage Erlander (first elected 1932) 1971–1973
- Torsten Nilsson (first elected 1941) 1973–1976
- Henry Allard (first elected 1945) 1976–1979
- Gunnar Sträng (first elected 1946) 1979–1985
- Ingemund Bengtsson (first elected 1951) 1985–1988
- Stig Alemyr (first elected 1957) 1988–1994
- Ingvar Carlsson (first elected 1965) 1994–1996
- Börje Nilsson (first elected 1965) 1996–1998
- Jan Bergqvist (first elected 1969) 1998–2002
- Anders Björck (first elected 1969) 2002–2003
- Bo Lundgren (first elected 1976) 2003–2004
- Lennart Nilsson (first elected 1976) 2004–2006
- Per Westerberg (first elected 1979) 2006–2014
- Göran Hägglund (first elected 1991) 2014–2015
- Krister Örnfjäder (first elected 1993) 2015–present
In the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, the oldest MP serves as the Acting Speaker presiding over the constitutive session, before the Speaker is elected.
- 2001 Zaharije Trnavčević - Democratic Party
- 2004 Velimir Simonović - Democratic Party of Serbia
- 2007 Borka Vučić - Socialist Party of Serbia
- 2008 Jovan Krkobabić - Party of United Pensioners of Serbia
- 2012 Zaharije Trnavčević - Rich Serbia
- 2014 Milan Korać - Party of United Pensioners of Serbia
- 2016 Dragoljub Mićunović - Democratic Party
Until his death on 23 March 2015, former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew was the longest serving Member of Parliament (Tanjong Pagar) and thus the Father of the House. As of April 2015, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong is Father of the House, as the longest serving MP (Marine Parade).
- Oldest Member (European Parliament)
- Baby of the House
- Dean of the House (Canada)
- Dean of the U.S. House of Representatives
- Father of the Dáil
- List of longest-serving members of the Australian House of Representatives
- President pro tempore of the United States Senate
- "The Father of the House" (PDF). Factsheet M3. London: House of Commons Information Office. March 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-03-25. Retrieved 2009-10-05.
- Moss, Stephen (2 May 2015). "Labour’s Dennis Skinner at 83: ‘Father of the House? You must be joking’". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 May 2015.
- "Members Sworn". Hansard. Hansard Digitisation Project. 30 June 1970. Retrieved 2009-10-05.
- "Members Sworn". Hansard. Hansard Digitisation Project. 1 July 1970. Retrieved 2009-12-01.
- "The Father of the House". London: The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography. Retrieved 2014-05-07.
- Söderman toimi puhemiesvaalin toimittajana, koska Andersson oli sairauslomalla; Hs.fi: Sauli Niinistö jatkaa eduskunnan puhemiehenä. Viitattu 24.4.2015. (in Finnish)
- Eduskunta: Täysistunnon pöytäkirja PTK 1/2008 vp (in Finnish)
- Eduskunta: Täysistunnon pöytäkirja PTK 1/2009 vp (in Finnish)
- Singapore's Veteran MPs