Father of the House

From Academic Kids

There is also the designation of Father of the House of Lords

The longest continuously serving member of certain national legislatures, most notably the House of Commons in the United Kingdom, is customarily designated Father of the House. If two or more MPs have equal lengths of service, then whoever was sworn in first is named Father.

The most important duty of the Father of the House is to preside over the election of a new Speaker, should that office be vacant at the beginning of a Parliament. However, a minister of the Crown is prohibited from presiding at the election of a speaker in the House of Commons; therefore, a minister is never considered the Father of the House, even if that minister is more senior than any other member.

The term Mother of the House is also found, although the usage varies between countries. Sometimes, it is used simply as the female alternative to Father of the House, being applied when the longest serving member of a legislature is a woman. Sometimes, however, it is treated as a separate designation, and is given to the longest serving female legislator, regardless of whether she is the longest serving legislator overall.

The current Father of the House of Commons is Alan Williams, Labour MP for Swansea West.


Contents

Fathers of the House in the UK

Canada

The term "Father of the House" is not used in Canada. In Canada, the longest-serving member of the House of Commons (who is not a cabinet minister) is known as the Dean of the House.

Australia

Main article: List of longest-serving members of the Australian House of Representatives.

The term "Father of the House" is also not used in Australia, where it is seen as a British usage, and is also objected to by women MPs as gender-biased. The longest-serving member of the Australian House of Representatives is Phillip Ruddock, who was first elected in 1973. The longest-serving member of the Australian Senate is Senator Brian Harradine, who was elected in 1975.

Father/Mother of the House in New Zealand

The current Mother of the House in the New Zealand Parliament is the current Prime Minister, Helen Clark. The Deputy Prime Minister, Michael Cullen, entered Parliament on the same day, but since MPs are sworn in alphabetically, Clark has served for slightly longer. Clark is not, however, the MP who has served the longest total time in Parliament — Richard Prebble has served for one term longer than Clark, but was out of Parliament between 1993 and 1996.

Until his recent retirement Jonathan Hunt, who was first elected in 1966, was the Father of the House.

See also

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