Speaker Denison's rule

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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 his casting vote in the event of a tie.

The principle is to always vote in favour of further debate, or, where it has been earlier carried to have no further debate or in some specific instances, to vote in favour of the status quo.[1][2] For example of the latter approach 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.

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


  1. ^ MacDonagh, Michael (1914). The Speaker of the House. London: Methuen. p. 74. 
  2. ^ Factsheet P9: Divisions (PDF). London: House of Commons Information Office. 2010. p. 6. 
  3. ^ "Exercise of the Casting Vote of the Chair". Parliament of New South Wales. 

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