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The Lord Speaker chairs the debates in the House of Lords and represents the institution outside Parliament. However, his powers in the Chamber are limited compared to speakers or presiding officers in other legislatures. As the House of Lords is a self-regulating body, his role is to assist the House during debate rather than to direct or manage it. Outside of the Chamber, the Lord Speaker undertakes a range of education, outreach, and ambassadorial work.

The Lord Speaker is elected by the Members of the House of Lords every five years and can serve for a maximum of two terms. The current incumbent, Lord Fowler, was elected in June 2016 and assumed office on 1 September 2016.

This briefing paper sets out the role and responsibilities of the Lord Speaker, both inside and outside the Chamber. It sets out the process by which the Lord Speaker is elected and provides details of the elections in 2006, 2011 and 2016.

This briefing paper also reviews the events that led to the creation of the post of Lord Speaker in 2006 and some of the recent proposals for change, including calls for the Lord Speaker to preside over Question Time.

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