#KeepingOrder: Llywydd of the National Assembly for Wales and the Speaker of the House of Commons answer your questions

How do you chair a meeting of AMs or MPs? What have you always wanted to know about life in the debating chamber?

Two people who  know are Elin Jones AM, Llywydd of the National Assembly for Wales, and The Rt Hon John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons.

On 2 December, we’ll be giving you the opportunity to gain a unique insight into their roles as they come together for an evening discussion with Adrian Masters of ITV Wales, at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay.

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Audience members will be able to listen to what promises to be a fascinating discussion, and put their own questions to the two figureheads.

To secure your free place, call the Booking Line on 0300 200 6565 or email contact@assembly.wales

Send your questions to us via Twitter using the hashtag #KeepingOrder.  The event will be broadcast live on our Facebook Page so you can also join the live discussion as it happens. The stream will begin at 17.00.

So, what do you think we could learn from Mr Speaker, and what could he learn from us? What have you always wanted to ask the Llywydd?

The role of Llywydd (or Presiding Officer) is the single most important office in the National Assembly for Wales and is set out in the Assembly’s Standing Orders. The Llywydd chairs Plenary meetings, keeping order in the Siambr, remaining politically impartial at all times. Plenary is a meeting of all 60 Assembly Members that takes place in the Siambr, the Senedd’s debating chamber.

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Y Siambr, the Senedd’s debating chamber

The Llywydd also plays an active role in representing the Assembly and Wales’s interests on the national and international stage and chairs the Assembly Commission. The Assembly Commission is the body which makes sure that Assembly Members have the staff and resources they need to carry out their roles effectively for the people of Wales.

The current Llywydd is the Plaid Cymru Assembly Member, Elin Jones, and the Deputy Presiding Officer, or Dirprwy Lywydd, is the Welsh Labour Assembly Member, Ann Jones.

Each Llywydd brings his or her own unique personality and focus to the role. For the current Llywydd, Elin Jones AM, there are three priority areas:

  • Making the Welsh Government more accountable to the Assembly and the people of Wales.
  • Making the work of the Assembly more relevant and topical by transforming the way in which we share information.
  • Maximising capacity and strengthening the Assembly by putting the people of Wales at the heart of Assembly decision making.

The role of the Llywydd of the National Assembly mirrors the roles of Speakers and Presiding Officers in parliaments across the world. Though the exact responsibilities of the job may vary from country to country, and they may have different titles, the roles are similar.

The Speaker represents the House. S/he represents the dignity of the House, the freedom of the House and, because the House represents the nation, the Speaker is a symbol of the nation’s freedom and liberty. Therefore it should be an honoured position, a free position and should be occupied always by persons of outstanding ability and impartiality.

Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, on the role of the Speaker.

The Llywydd must defend the right of individual Members to perform their role without interference, to speak on behalf of the people they represent and to express views, even when they are not shared by the majority. All Assembly Members should have an equal opportunity to contribute to parliamentary activity.

Like the Llywydd, the Speaker of the House of Commons chairs debates in the chamber, keeping order during debates and calling MPs to speak.  The Speaker has full authority to make sure MPs follow the rules of the House during debates.

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The House of Commons chamber

The Speaker is the highest authority of the House of Commons and, like the Llywydd, must remain politically impartial at all times. The Speaker also represents the Commons to the monarch, the Lords and other authorities and chairs the House of Commons Commission.

On 22 June 2009 the Rt. Hon John Bercow MP was elected 157th Speaker of the House of Commons. A former national Chairman of the Federation of Conservative Students and London Borough Councillor, he was elected Member of Parliament for Buckingham in May 1997 as a Conservative, serving on the front benches as spokesman for Education & Employment and Home Affairs.

He was appointed Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury in 2001 then Shadow Minister for Work & Pensions in 2002 and from 2003 to 2004 as Shadow Secretary of State for International Development.

He then became a member of the International Development Select Committee and served as co-Chair of the All-party Parliamentary group on Burma, vice-Chair of the APG on the prevention of genocide, Africa and Sudan.

He was Secretary of the All Party group on Human Rights and established the All Party group on Brain Tumours. In September 2007 he was appointed by the Government to lead a review of services for children and young people with speech, language and communication needs. Appointed to the Speaker’s Conference on Parliamentary Representation in November 2008 he became Chair of the Conference on becoming Speaker.

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