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leader of ceremony

Leader of the House of Commons

The Leader of the House of Commons is a member of the Cabinet of the United Kingdom who is responsible for arranging government business in the House of Commons. Although at one time the position was usually held by the Prime Minister, in recent years, the post has usually been combined with that of Lord President of the Council (i.e. of the Privy Council), though under the current government it is combined instead with the office of Lord Privy Seal.

Harriet Harman was appointed Leader of the House of Commons by the Prime Minister Gordon Brown on June 28, 2007, following on from her cousins Austen Chamberlain (1921-22) and Neville Chamberlain (1937-1940).

The House of Commons devotes approximately three quarters of its time to "Government business" such as bills introduced by the government and ministerial statements. The Leader of the House is responsible for organising the use of this time, and making regular announcements to the House as to what business the government will put before it. When there is no Deputy Prime Minister, or the Deputy Prime Minister is unavailable, the Leader of the House may stand in for an absent Prime Minister at Prime Minister's Questions (Harriet Harman was the most recent person to do this, on 2 April 2008).

Robin Cook was appointed as Leader of the House after the 2001 UK general election. He resigned from the post on 17 March 2003, as he could not accept the government's position on military action against Iraq. During his period in office he chaired the Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons, which proposed significant reforms of the sitting hours of the House.

Leaders of the House of Commons since 1721

At times the nominal leadership was held by the Prime Minister but the day to day work was done by a Deputy. At other times a Deputy was appointed merely to enhance an individual politician's standing within the government.

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