Deputy Speakers are elected by secret ballot towards the start of a Parliament, but it may be a couple weeks before the elections take place. There are three Deputy Speakers: the Chairman of Ways and Means (the principal Deputy Speaker), the First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means, and the Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means.

At least one of the Speaker/Deputy Speaker team must be a man and at least one a woman. The Chairman of Ways and Means and the Second Deputy Chairman are drawn from different parties from the Speaker. The First Deputy Chairman of Ways is from the same party as the Speaker.

Nominations

Candidates for Deputy Speaker posts must submit written nominations to the Table Office between 10am and 5pm on the day before the election. The nomination consists of a signed declaration that you’re willing to stand, along with the signatures of between six and 10 MPs from any party who support your nomination. No MP can sign more than three nomination forms, and if they do their signature is no longer valid. You may also provide an optional 500-word supporting statement. This may be in the form of a CV but must not be a personal manifesto.

A list of candidates is placed in Members’ Lobby and published on Parliament’s website (along with any statements).

Election

The election will be held the next day in one of the committee rooms on the Committee Corridor in the Palace between 11am and 12 noon. To vote, go to one of the temporary division desks where you can get a ballot paper. The ballot paper gives the names of candidates in alphabetical order.

The ballot is counted using the single transferable vote system. You should number the candidates according to your preference, ‘1’ being your most preferred candidate. The figure ‘1’ represents the vote and is mandatory. The rest are optional but the more candidates you rank, the more influence you have over the final result. For example, if there were eight candidates you could rank them in order from 1 to 8.

Complete the ballot paper at one of the stations in the room and deposit it in one of the ballot boxes at the exit.

The count and results

You may only watch the count if you’re a candidate.

The results are announced by the Speaker in the Chamber and published as soon as possible after the ballot has closed.

Once elected, Deputy Speakers remain in office until the next general election, unless they resign.

If there are the same number of candidates as posts, an election is still necessary to decide who will be Chairman of Ways and Means and who will be Second Deputy Chairman, but if there is only one candidate for the post of First Deputy Chairman an election might not be deemed necessary.

If it’s necessary to elect a single post of Deputy Speaker during the course of a Parliament, candidates must come from the relevant side of the House.