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Dragging of the Speaker

Nasik Swami
Saturday, November 11, 2017

WHY do parliaments which follow the Westminster system observe the "Dragging of the Speaker" tradition?

This was asked by students of Yat Sen Secondary School in Suva after they watched videos of "The Dragging of the Speaker" during a short presentation at Parliament last Thursday.

Year 10 student Nivandita Chand said she came to learn of the tradition for the first time and was interested.

She said it was unique and for first-timers, people could get the wrong idea about the Dragging of any Speaker tradition.

Schoolmate, Tommy Lin shared similar sentiments that they were fortunate to have learnt the tradition that was still practised by some parliaments around the world.

Fijian Parliament's civic education officer, Iliesa Raiduduva, in a brief presentation to students said the tradition originated from events that happened between the 13th to the 17th century in England.

Mr Raiduduva said during those centuries, when the Speaker of the House of Commons in England conveyed a message about the meeting of Parliament that was not to the then King's liking, the Speaker was usually executed.

He said this act continued until about seven to nine Speakers were executed back in England.

"So during the appointment of any Speaker after the execution, Members of Parliament were usually hesitant to take up the role of the Speaker, fearing for their lives.

"The act of execution stopped but the tradition continued to be practised in parliaments around the world."

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