Rt Hon Mark Spencer Leader of the House of Commons | Lord President

The Leader of the House of Commons is a government minister whose main role is organising government business in the Commons. The Leader of the House does this by working closely with the government’s Chief Whip.

Scheduling business

Every sitting Thursday, the Leader of the House tells the Commons about the business scheduled for the following week and usually provisional business for the week after.

Committee membership

The Leader chairs one Cabinet Committee, the Parliamentary Business and Legislation Committee.

Deputising for the Prime Minister

The Leader can deputise for the Prime Minister, either at Prime Minister’s Questions or for formal duties. Ordinarily the Deputy Prime Minister or First Secretary of State can fulfil this function.

History of the role

The title does not appear to have become established until about the middle of the nineteenth-century although the institution is much older. The leadership of the House is not a statutory office nor is the Leader formally appointed by the Crown; for these reasons the post has usually been held together with another office; recently this has usually been that of Lord President of the Council.

Until 1942 the Prime Minister, if a Minister of the House of Commons, generally also acted as Leader of the House, although day-to-day duties were frequently carried out after 1922 by an appointed deputy Leader. Since 1942 it has been the regular practice to have a separate Leader of the House, and there have also been instances of the appointment of a deputy Leader of the House.

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