Serjeant-at-Arms of the House of Commons (United Kingdom)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

United Kingdom
Serjeant at Arms of the
House of Commons
House of Commons of the United Kingdom.svg
Incumbent
Kamal El-Hajji

since 2015
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Reports toClerk of the Parliaments
AppointerThe Crown (de jure)
Clerk of the Parliaments (de facto)
Formation1415
First holderNicholas Maundit
DeputyYeoman Usher of the Black Rod
WebsiteSerjeant at Arms

The Serjeant at Arms of the British House of Commons is a parliamentary official responsible for order in the House of Commons. The office dates to 1415 and traditionally included responsibility for security. The role is now mainly ceremonial.

The House of Lords also had a Serjeant-at-Arms (the title was often distinguished by the use of hyphens), dating also from the 15th Century. His duties were merged in 1971 with those of Black Rod.[1]

Traditionally the post of Serjeant at Arms was filled by a retired military officer, but in 2008 a civil servant, Jill Pay, was selected as the first woman to hold the appointment. At the same time the job was split, with many of the duties transferred to the new post of chief executive.[2]

In 2012 Lawrence Ward, Assistant Serjeant at Arms from 2008, Deputy Serjeant at Arms 2011, was appointed to the role. [3] The current (2015) holder of the post is Mohammed Amal (Kamal) El-Hajji, a Parliamentary senior official, responsible for security and order in the House of Commons Chamber.[4]

Duties[edit]

Jill Pay, Serjeant at Arms (far right) during an address to both Houses of Parliament by Barack Obama in Westminster Hall, 2011

The duties of the Serjeant at Arms are partly ceremonial. The Serjeant at Arms carries the mace during the opening of Parliament and is also responsible for maintaining order during debates in the House of Commons, escorting members out of the chamber if ordered to do so by the Speaker.

The Serjeant at Arms may also be called upon to enforce the warrants of the Speaker in summoning a witness to testify before a select committee of the house. While serving the warrant and encouraging a witness to attend parliament "the Serjeant or his appointee may call on the full assistance of the civil authorities, including the police."[5] In November 2018 the Serjeant-at-Arms was called upon to escort an American businessman, who was staying in London, to the Houses of Parliament because he had documents pertaining to the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal. After being told he could face arrest, fines and imprisonment for failing to comply with a parliamentary order to hand over the documents, the man eventually complied with the request.[6] This is unusual, the most recent prior occasion had been in January 1992 when the Maxwell brothers were summoned before the Social Security Select Committee inquiry into the operation of pension funds. [7]

Dress[edit]

The Serjeant at Arms wears traditional court dress and carries a sword,[8] and is traditionally the only person allowed to be armed (with sword or mace) inside the chamber of the House of Commons.[9]

List of Serjeants at Arms[edit]

Sir Henry Erskine, Serjeant-at-Arms, UK House of Commons. Caricatured by Vanity Fair, 1894

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ House of Lords; Serjeant-at-Arms at www.parliament.uk
  2. ^ Groves, Jason (13 October 2011). "First female Serjeant at Arms quits Commons just days after powerful clerk becomes her boss". Daily Mail. London.
  3. ^ www.parliament.uk - 16 April 2012 - Serjeant at Arms appointed
  4. ^ www.parliament.uk - 22 December 2015 - Serjeant at Arms appointed
  5. ^ https://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-information-office/g06.pdf - September 2010
  6. ^ "Facebook documents seized by MPs investigating privacy breach". BBC NEWS. 25 November 2018.
  7. ^ https://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-information-office/g06.pdf - September 2010
  8. ^ Serjeant at Arms Archived 9 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "From postman to Serjeant at Arms". BBC NEWS. 27 November 2015. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h "Serjeants at Arms to the Speaker" (PDF). Retrieved 28 October 2013.
  11. ^ History of Parliament
  12. ^ History of Parliament
  13. ^ History of Parliament
  14. ^ History of Parliament
  15. ^ Thepeerage
  16. ^ "Captain Gosset has resigned". The Spectator. Retrieved 28 October 2013.
  17. ^ Thepeerage
  18. ^ New Serjeant at Arms appointed https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-35158838 BBC News