Speaker Denison's rule

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Speaker Denison's rule is a constitutional convention established by the 19th century Speaker of the British and Irish House of Commons John Evelyn Denison regarding how the Speaker decides on his casting vote in the event of a tie.

The principle is to always vote in favour of further debate, or, where no further debate is possible, to vote in favour of the status quo.[1][2] 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 change. So, say a bill was introduced to ban all blue cars. If the vote in the House of Commons was 301–299 in favour, then Parliament wants to ban blue cars and blue cars are banned. But if the vote was tied on 300-300, then it cannot be said that Parliament wants to ban blue cars, so why should blue cars be banned?

Speaker Denison's rule is now a guiding principle in many other bodies that have neutral chairpersons.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Michael MacDonagh, The Speaker of the House (1914)
  2. ^ United Kingdom House of Commons Information Office, "Divisions"
  3. ^ Parliament of New South Wales, "Exercise of the Casting Vote of the Chair"

External links[edit]