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Cabinet minister David Carter is in line to become parliament's next Speaker, it's been reported.

Speaker Lockwood Smith is widely expected to become New Zealand's next high commissioner to London before the end of the year and the government has to replace him.

Mr Carter, the primary industries minister, is being tapped on the shoulder, 3 News reported on Thursday.

Mr Carter confirmed he had held "preliminary discussions" with Prime Minister John Key and said if he was formally invited to take the position he would seriously consider it.

If he does there will be a vacancy in the cabinet and there's speculation Nick Smith could return.

Dr Smith resigned his portfolios earlier this year because of a conflict of interest controversy when he was ACC minister.