Father of the House

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Father of the House is a term that has by tradition been unofficially bestowed on certain members of some national legislatures, most notably the House of Commons in the United Kingdom. In some legislatures the term refers to the oldest member, but in others it refers the longest-serving member.

The term Mother of the House is also found, although the usage varies between countries. It is used simply as the female alternative to Father of the House, being applied when the relevant member is a woman.


United Kingdom

House of Commons

The Father of the House is a title that is by tradition bestowed on the senior Member of the House of Commons who has the longest unbroken service.[1] If two or more MPs have the same length of current uninterrupted service, then whoever was sworn in earliest at its commencement, as listed in Hansard, is named Father.

In the House of Commons, the sole mandatory duty of the Father of the House is to assume the Speaker's chair and preside over the election of a new Speaker whenever that office becomes vacant. The relevant Standing Order does not refer to this member by the title "Father of the House", referring instead to the longest-serving member of the House present who is not a Minister of the Crown (meaning that if the Father is absent or a government minister, the next person in line presides).

The current Father of the House of Commons is Sir Peter Tapsell, Conservative MP for Louth and Horncastle, who began his continuous service from the 1966 general election.

Should Tapsell cease to be a Member of the House of Commons, MPs with continuous service from the 1970 general election will become eligible to be Father of the House. The members with this length of service are: Sir Gerald Kaufman, Kenneth Clarke, Michael Meacher and Dennis Skinner (listed according to the order in which that they took the oath after the 1970 election).[2][3]

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