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Officers of The Parliament

There are two categories of Officers of Parliament. Presiding Officers are actual Members of Parliament: the President of the Legislative Council, the Speaker of the House of Assembly and the Chairman of Committees. Permanent Officers include the Clerk of each House and their staff who are not Members of Parliament.

Presiding Officers

The President of the Legislative Council and the Speaker of the House of Assembly are elected by all the Members of their respective houses, not just the Government Members. They act as Chairpersons of the Houses of Parliament. Their functions fall into two main categories. They are the spokesperson for the House in relations with the Crown, the other House, and other authorities and persons outside of Parliament. Secondly, they preside over the debates of the House and enforce the rules for preserving order. It is very important that the President and Speaker are seen as impartial and authoritative.

On formal occasions, both the President and Speaker may wear ceremonial dress, with full-bottomed wig and black silk or satin damask gown, with lace at the throat and wrists. On ordinary sitting days, the President wears the gown and the Speaker may wear both the wig and the gown.

The President performs the dual duties of President and Chairman of Committees in the Legislative Council.

Like the Speaker, the Chairman of Committees (who is also Deputy Speaker) in the House of Assembly is elected by the Members of that House. The Chairman of Committees presides when the House forms itself into a Committee of the whole of the membership of the House to consider Bills.

The Chairman of Committees wears no special dress, a fact which serves to emphasise the comparative informality of the deliberations of the Committee, when Members may speak more than once on any particular question but the debate must be strictly relevant to the clause or amendment before the Chair.

Permanent Officers of Parliament

There are four main permanent officers of Parliament: the Clerk of the Legislative Council, the Clerk of the House of Assembly, the Deputy Clerk of the Legislative Council (who is also Usher of the Black Rod) and the Deputy Clerk of the House of Assembly (who is also the Serjeant-at-Arms).

The Clerks and their staff in each House provide the permanent administration in a Parliament whose membership is subject to change. One of their main functions is to advise the President or Speaker, Ministers and Members on Parliamentary procedure. They are responsible for the compilation of the Journals of the House and they are the custodians of all records and documents laid before Parliament. In these duties they are assisted by the Deputy Clerks, Clerk-Assistants and Parliamentary Officers.