The Clerk of the House is the chief procedural and administrative adviser to the Speaker and to the Members of the House of Commons. He or she is at the service of all Members of Parliament, regardless of party affiliation, and as such must act with impartiality and discretion.
As chief executive of the House administration, the Clerk reports to the Speaker and is responsible for the day-to-day management of House administration staff. The Clerk also serves as Secretary to the Board of Internal Economy and is responsible for implementing decisions of the Board in the Speaker’s name.
In his or her procedural role, the Clerk is responsible for maintaining records of the proceedings of the House and for keeping custody of these records and other documents in his or her possession.
When there is a recorded vote, after the votes have been recorded and the “yeas” and “nays” counted, the Clerk rises and reports the result of the vote to the Speaker.
The Standing Orders also require the Clerk to provide to the Speaker, prior to each sitting of the House, the official agenda for the day’s proceedings, published under the title Order Paper and Notice Paper.
At the beginning of a Parliament, the Clerk or another duly authorized officer administers the oath of allegiance (or a solemn affirmation) to all duly elected Members and to Members appointed to the Board of Internal Economy. Employees of the House administration are also required to swear the oath of allegiance.
The Clerk of the House is assisted by a Deputy Clerk, one or more Clerk’s Assistant and a number of other Table Officers, each of whom have various responsibilities within the administration of the House of Commons.
Table Officers provide procedural advice to the Speaker, to other Chair Occupants, and to Members of the House. They also take the votes and keep the minutes of proceedings.
The Sergeant-at-Arms is a senior official of the House and performs various roles. Within the Chamber, some of these responsibilities are of a traditional or ceremonial nature.
The Sergeant-at-Arms (or his or her assistant) sits at a desk in front of the Bar on the Opposition side of the House. The Sergeant-at-Arms is the guardian of the Mace (the ornately embellished staff symbolizing the authority of the Speaker), which rests on the Table during sittings of the House.
The ceremonial role of the Sergeant-at-Arms entails accompanying the Speaker, as Mace-bearer, in all parliamentary functions (for example, in the parade escorting the Speaker to and from the Chamber, or to the Senate Chamber for the reading of the Speech from the Throne or for Royal Assent ceremonies).
When engaged in ceremonial functions and when attending sittings of the House, the Sergeant-at-Arms is formally attired in black tailcoat and cocked hat, with a sword signifying the authority of the office.
Each year, 40 students selected from Canadian high schools and CEGEPs begin a one-year term as Pages in the House of Commons. The Pages work part-time at the House while attending their first year of study at one of the universities in the National Capital Region.
The Pages carry out their duties in the House under the guidance of Page Program Supervisors, who are permanent staff of the House with their own responsibilities to assist in the smooth functioning of House proceedings.
The Parliamentary Publications Directorate produces “Debates”, the official record of the debates in the House of Commons. “Debates” employees are seated on the floor of the House to monitor proceedings.
Simultaneous interpretation is provided in both English and French for all proceedings in both the Chamber and committees. Enclosed booths for the interpreters are located in the corners of the Chamber opposite the Speaker’s Chair.