Why does deputy speaker chair the budget? Who is Dame Eleanor Laing - where is Sir Lindsay Hoyle

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The deputy speaker of the House of Commons traditionally chairs the budget

The deputy speaker of the House of Commons chairing the budget is a long-standing tradition in the UK, and while many people might expect to see speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle chairing the budget, it’s actually his deputy Dame Eleanor Laing who does so.

Here’s what you need to know about why the deputy speaker chairs the budget and who Dame Eleanor Laing is.

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Why does the deputy speaker chair the budget?

The Chair of the Ways and Means is the formal title for the deputy speaker, and they are the one who traditionally chairs the opening statement and debate of the budget. However, this does not mean that the speaker can’t chair the budget, and there have been occasions where they have, notably in 1968 and 1989.

The office of Ways and Means stemmed historically from the need to act independently when it came to issues such as budget.

John McFall (L) and Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, Eleanor Laing, arrive to attend a Service of Thanksgiving for Britain’s Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, at Westminster Abbey in central London on March 29, 2022 (Photo by DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images)John McFall (L) and Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, Eleanor Laing, arrive to attend a Service of Thanksgiving for Britain’s Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, at Westminster Abbey in central London on March 29, 2022 (Photo by DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images)
John McFall (L) and Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, Eleanor Laing, arrive to attend a Service of Thanksgiving for Britain’s Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, at Westminster Abbey in central London on March 29, 2022 (Photo by DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

The UK Parliament website states: “Until at least the 18th century, Speakers were placed in an increasingly untenable and dangerous position: meant to represent the House’s interests to the King on the one hand, and the King’s interests to the House on the other.

“After the Restoration, in the late 17th century, the Commons resolved that whenever it was to consider the financial demands of the King, it would need to resolve itself into a committee of the whole House, chaired by its ‘own man’, rather than the Speaker, who was seen as the King’s spy.”

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Who is Dame Eleanor Laing?

Dame Eleanor Laing is a Scottish politican who was born in Paisley on 1 February 1958. As a member of the Conservative Party, she has served as Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons since 2013, and as Chairman of Ways and Means since 2020.

Prior to her political career, Laing attended St Columba’s School in Inverclyde before later graduating from Edinburgh University with Master of Arts and Bachelor of Laws degrees. During her time at Edinubrgh University, she became the first female President of the Edinburgh University Students’ Association. She worked as a solicitor in Edinburgh before getting into politics.

Dame Eleanor Laing official portrait (Photo: Parliament)Dame Eleanor Laing official portrait (Photo: Parliament)
Dame Eleanor Laing official portrait (Photo: Parliament) | Parliament

She was first elected as the MP for Epping Forest in the 1997 general election, and has served the constituency since then.

Over the course of her career, she has served as Shadow Minister for Justice, Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, Shadow Minister for Women, Shadow Minister for Children and Education and Skills spokesman and Opposition Whip.

Laing received her Damehood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2018.

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