Speaker of the House of Burgesses (New Virginia)

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Speaker of the
New Virginian House of Burgesses
Burgesses logo.svg
Emblem of the House of Burgesses
Sir James Stewart KCSM

since 24 August 2020
StyleThe Right Honourable (formal)
Mr. or Mme. Speaker (informal and within the House)
StatusPresiding officer
Member ofHouse of Burgesses
ResidenceNone official
AppointerHouse of Burgesses by majority vote
Term lengthLength of parliamentary term
Inaugural holderSir James Stewart
Formation1 August 2020
Deputy2 Deputy Speakers

The Speaker of the House of Burgesses of the Commonwealth of New Virginia, commonly referred to as the Speaker of the House or simply as the Speaker, is the presiding officer and primary representative of the New Virginian House of Burgesses. The Speaker of the House is elected by the sitting BPs at the start of every session of Parliament, setting the term of office for four to twelve months.

As the Senate is primarily responsible for constitutional interpretation and review of laws, the House of Burgesses is the sole house of Parliament vested with legislative authority under normal circumstances; therefore, the Speaker of the House is considered the senior legislative officer of the Commonwealth. The Speaker of the House is also the second in the line of succession to the Presidency should that office become vacant.

The office of Speaker of the House was created with the enactment of the Constitution of New Virginia by referendum on 1 August 2020; however, no Speaker would be elected until the formation of Parliament later that month. The first and incumbent Speaker is The Right Honourable Sir James Stewart KCSM, who has held office since 24 August 2020.

Powers and responsibilities

The Speaker of the House of Burgesses is the presiding officer of the House, and as such directs the activities and maintains the decorum of that house. In this function, the Speaker has the authority to recognize motions, call for periods of debate and voting, rule on points of order, and enforce the Standing Orders of the House of Burgesses. Although the Constitution does not forbid Speakers from holding membership in a political party, the Speaker sits as an independent by precedent in the interest of fairness and impartiality.

The Speaker is responsible for organizing votes to determine a nominee for Prime Minister (constitutionally, the House nominates the Prime Minister and the President is required to make the appointment based on that advice), and therefore registers candidates, moderates debate, counts the votes, and informs the President of the House's advice. The Speaker also presides over confirmation votes for senators and high commissioners, and over motions of no confidence in the Government.

The Speaker is additionally the constitutionally-designated second successor to the office of President of the Commonwealth in the event of the death, resignation, temporary or permanent incapacitation, or removal from office of an incumbent; the inability of the President of the Senate to serve, or the resignation of an Acting President. The Speaker would then become Acting President, discharging the duties of the President until they can return to office (as with incapacitation) or a new President can be elected by the Electoral College (in the event of vacancy).

The Speaker is assisted in their responsibilities by two Deputy Speakers, who are appointed by the Speaker from among the sitting BPs. The Deputy Speakers do not observe the abstention from party membership as is done by the Speaker. When a Deputy Speaker is presiding, they are referred to as the Speaker pro tempore.

Election and removal

The Speaker of the House is elected by the sitting BPs at the start of every session of Parliament, or whenever the office is vacated following death, resignation, removal from office (as BP) or incapacity. While the office of Speaker has no set term of office, the dissolution of the House of Burgesses may take place no sooner than four months and no later than one year following the start of a Parliamentary session, putting the potential term of office for a Speaker between four months and three weeks or twelve months and three weeks.

At present, no method exists for the House of Burgesses to directly remove a Speaker from office. The residents of a BP's constituency have the right to recall their burgess by a petition of at least two-thirds of the electorate, which if exercised against a sitting Speaker would vacate that office as well; however, this has yet to take place.

List of Speakers of the House

Portrait Name
Honourifics and constituency
Other offices Deputies Assumed office Left office
Rt Hon James Stewart BP.jpeg
The Right Honourable
Sir James Stewart
Burgess for New Franklin-at-large
1st Parliament
2nd Parliament
First Ambassador (2020 - )
Ambassador to the GUM (2020 - )
Burgess (2020 - )
Thomas Bainbridge (2020)
Sir Simon White (2021 - )
Cristian Dobrev (2021 - )
24 August 2020 Incumbent
Elected following the 2020 general election. Wrote and proposed the Standing Orders of the House of Burgesses. Set the precedent of the Speaker serving as an independent. Re-elected without opposition following the 2021 general election.

See also