The Clerk is responsible for maintaining records of the proceedings of the House and for keeping custody of these records and other documents in the possession of the House. All decisions of the House are authenticated by signature of the Clerk.|
Role and ResponsibilitiesThe office of Clerk has a long history in British parliamentary tradition. The first official appointment of a Clerk to the Commons took place in England in 1363, though from much earlier times kings had employed officials to record their decisions and those of their advisors.
In the language of the time, the word “clerk” simply indicated a person who could read and write. Thus, the early Clerks of the House were servants of the Crown appointed to assist the Commons with its business. Their duties included reading petitions and bills.
As the Commons gained in stature and recognition, its Clerk became more identified with the institution. In the mid-sixteenth century, Clerks began keeping notes on proceedings in the House, and these evolved into the Journals. Over time, the role of Clerk grew to include advising the Chair and the House on procedural matters.
Members are supported in their parliamentary functions by services administered by the Clerk of the House who, as the chief executive of the House administration, reports to the Speaker . The Clerk advises the Speaker and all Members on the interpretation of parliamentary rules, precedents and practices. The Clerk is at the service of all Members, regardless of party affiliation, and must act with impartiality and discretion.
The Clerk is responsible for maintaining records of the proceedings of the House and for keeping custody of these records and other documents in the possession of the House. All decisions of the House are authenticated by signature of the Clerk.
At the beginning of a Parliament, the Clerk administers the oath of allegiance to all duly elected Members as required by the Constitution Act, 1867.
The Clerk acts as Secretary to the Board of Internal Economy, the governing body that has responsibility over all financial and administrative matters respecting the House of Commons. The Clerk also administers an oath to Members joining the Board of Internal Economy.
In addition, the Clerk frequently receives delegations of parliamentary officials from other legislatures and participates in interparliamentary activities.
Among his achievements are the development of the first dedicated manual on the day-to-day conduct of Senate sittings and rules, Senate Procedure in Practice, and the initiation of and participation in the work of the Standing Committee on Rules Procedures and the Rights of Parliament on the first comprehensive report on Canadian parliamentary privilege in our Parliament’s history. He also oversaw a complete revision of the Rules of the Senate to simplify, clarify and modernize the foundational text.
Mr. Robert also exercised formal duties related to protocol in national and international inter-parliamentary relations and has written and published extensively on parliamentary topics. Charles Robert was appointed Clerk of the House of Commons effective July 10, 2017.