The office of the Clerk of Parliament originated from medieval English parliaments when most Members could not read or write and the Clerk's main function was to read out the items of business and other announcements before Parliament.
The Clerk of Parliament is the most senior official in the Secretariat and he is supported by his Deputy Clerk, Principal Assistant Clerks and Assistant Clerks. The Clerks provide advice to the Speaker, chairpersons of select committees and MPs on parliamentary law and procedures. Seated at the table directly below the Speaker's Chair, the Clerks act as advisors to the Speaker and MPs during a sitting.
In addition to this advisory role, the Clerks also maintain records of all proceedings of the House and its Select Committees and examine Bills, questions for oral/written answer, motions, petitions and other papers for presentation to ensure conformity with the House's rules prescribed in the Standing Orders. Other duties performed by the Clerks include undertaking inter-parliamentary liaison functions and acting as secretaries to parliamentary delegations attending conferences abroad.