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    Saturday, 4 March 2017

    Power and Duties of Speaker of the House of Representatives

    1. Speaker's Election
    After a new House is elected, its first duty is to organize itself. The clerk of the last House presides. The roll call is taken to determine the presence of quorum. Then the oath of office is administered. Thereafter he House proceeds to elect its Speaker. In Great Britain, the Speaker is returned unopposed from his constituency as many times as he intends to be returned. But in America his election is always contested and he is never returned unopposed from his constituency. He is elected on party lines and remains partisan throughout his term.

     2. Procedure of Election
    Though the constitution does not require the Speaker to be a member of the House. Yet only a member of the House makes choice. In practice, it is always agreed upon by a caucus composed of members of the majority party. If the same political party gets Majority in the House, and the Speaker of the last Congress is returned, it is customary to re-jig election him. If same party not returned in majority and there is a change in the relative strength of the parties as the result of an election, the next Speaker is likely to be the man who served as floor leader of his party when it was in minority. Thus, the Speaker is always: the choice of the majority party. The House merely ratifies the choice.

    3. Powers of the speaker.

     The powers of the speaker may be summed up As under:

    a. The power to Preside and recognize. 
    The Speaker conducts the proceeding of the, House and recognizes the members. The rules of the, House provide that if two or more members' rise, "The Speaker shall name the member who is first to speak."

    b. The power to maintain order
    The Speaker maintains order and decorum in the House. The rules of the House in this respect are strict. The members must address the chair respectfully, must not wear hats or smoke in the H6use, and must obey the Speaker's rulings. If the Speaker calls any member to order he must immediately sit down. In case of disturbance or disorderly conduct the Speaker may either suspend business or instruct the Sergeant-at-arms to quiet any disorder in the House. But the Speaker Cannot censure, expel or punish a member. Only the House can do that.

    c. The power to interpret the Rules
    The Speaker interprets the Rules of the House and applies them. Before 1910 the Speaker used to be the Chairman of the rules committee.

    d. The growth of the Speaker's authority
    The growth of the Speaker's authority and his denial of the right to against his legislative dictatorship in many cases led to a revolt in 1910 against his legislative dictatorship. In that year a group of insurgent Republicans combined Committee Democrats and deprived the Speaker of the power to appoint the ineligibility on Rules and provided that the Speaker should henceforth be e for membership of the Rules Committee.

    e. Other function of the Speaker

    (i) The deputies can take the floor only on the permission of the Speaker who allocates time for such speeches.

    (ii) This is the discretion of the Speaker to decide when the vote is to be taken during the deliberations he may ask for division and announce the results.

    (iii) The Speaker of the House can nominate Conference Committees and Select Committees. In case the clerk of the House faces difficulty in deciding as to which committee a particular bill should be referred, the Speaker makes the final decision in this respect.

    (iv) All the bills passed by the House, all petitions, joint resolutions and warrants got to be signed by the Speaker.

    (v) Generally, the Speaker avoids casting his: vote in the House but in case of tie he may use his casting vote to break the dead lock.

    (vi) The Speaker of the House is fully authorized disallow the" initiation of such moves as aim at obstructing the business of the House.

    (vi) The speaker of the House is fully authorized disallow the imitation of such moves as aim at obstructing the business of the House.

    4. Comparison with the British Speaker
     The following points of difference may be noted:
    (i) The American Speaker does not enjoy the prestige and honor which a British Speaker has since he is a partyman.

    (ii) The decision of the British Speaker is final. But the decision of the American Speaker is final. An appeal, against his decision can be made to the House.

    (iii) The office of the British Speaker is not contested. The Speaker is re-elected. In America, the, office of the speaker is contested. Both the parties put up their candidate.

    (iv) The British Speaker does not take part in the debates within the House. The American Speaker takes part in the debates, casts his vote and exercises his casting vote not impartially but as dictated by the interests of his party.

    (v) The American Speaker openly favors his party in the House of Representatives. The British Speaker is an impartial person.

    (vi) The Speaker of the American House of Representatives is a partyman. The British Speaker is a non-partyman.

    (vii) The American Speaker does not have the power to decide as to whether a Bill is a Money Bill or not. The Parliament Act of 1911 has given such a power to the British Speaker.

    (viii) The British Speaker possesses the full disciplinary authority over the members of the House. The American Speaker cannot expel member who is rowdy and does not obey the chair.

    (ix) The British Speaker can recognize the member, i.e., he can ask anybody to speak. The American Speaker was deprived of this power in the 1910-11 revolt against him. Now, this is the privilege of the House itself.

    (x) The British Speaker's authority is final regarding the interpretation of the rules of the House, but in U.S.A. final authority in this matter rests with the House itself. 
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