Tag Archives: john bercow

Lib Dem candidate won’t stand against the Speaker after all

Yesterday the Bucks Herald reported:

Buckingham Constituency (Liberal Democrats) will be fighting the General Election on June 8th. This is the first time one of the three major parties has contested the seat since 2005, four years before John Bercow MP became the Speaker.

Their prospective parliamentary candidate is Sarah Lowes.

Sarah Lowes is a life-long Lib Dem voter who joined the party in May 2015, after the then leader Nick Clegg’s resignation speech inspired her to become an activist rather than an armchair supporter.

However, this has now been superseded by events. Today, Sarah Lowes took the decision to stand down in accordance with the convention that the main political parties do not oppose the Speaker.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 45 Comments

A couple of voices of sanity in the current maelstrom of insanity

The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, yesterday answered a question from an MP concerning whether Donald Trump would be invited to address MPs in Parliament if and when he pays his state visit in the UK.

A modicum of research reveals that Bercow gave the only reasonable answer he could: that he would be opposed to such an invitation (can you imagine many MPs turning up to meekly listen to The Donald?). He enlarged that answer with entirely proper reasoning. He emphasised that he spoke for the House of Commons only, that he was only one of three “key holders” of Westminster Hall and of the Royal Gallery. He said, quite rightly, that such an invite is an “earned honour” seldom accorded – not an automatic right. If you look at the list of people who have addressed parliament in Westminster Hall, it is very short. The list of people doing such addresses elsewhere in the Palace of Westminster is somewhat longer. However, I don’t see either George Bushes on the list, for example. Or John F Kennedy (though he was perhaps not President long enough). Not even Dwight D Eisenhower addressed Parliament during his two terms – and he was regarded with vast reverence in this country.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 10 Comments

Greg Mulholland’s row with the Speaker – the obvious solution

Yesterday, Leeds MP Greg Mulholland tried to ask a question about the availability of a drug to treat a constituent’s rare disease – and was prevented from doing so by the Speaker for being “long-winded.”  ITV News has the story:

Speaker John Bercow had warned Mr Mulholland to be quick in his statement but after referring to missed decision dates given to families by health authorities, the Lib Dem was told to resume his seat.

Six-year-old Sam Brown from Otley. Sam, who has Morquio syndrome needs Vimazim treatment, mentioned by Mr Mulholland, but NHS England deferred a decision over whether to provide the drug, then last week announced it would wait for guidance from NICE, the health body consulting on the drug.

There is a video of the exchange on the ITV site and, to be honest, I’m quite annoyed with John Bercow. Greg was no more long-winded than many of the other questions that day – Hansard has the details so you can see for yourself. All Greg had said before he was interrupted was this:

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 16 Comments

The Liberal Democrats who stood up for John Bercow

I asked the other day why on earth the Liberal Democrats had indulged the Tories’ last minute motion on the re-election of the Speaker which brought this Parliament to a rather undignified end.

We still haven’t had any real justification as to why we allowed this to take that leap from William Hague’s head to Commons Order paper, but I thought that you would be interested to read the Liberal Democrat interventions in the debate, both of which were against the motion.

David Heath’s remarks were very brief but to the point:

Further to the point of order, Mr Speaker. There is, of course, another way. The Leader of the House could withdraw the motion— I have to say that although I would always support a secret ballot, I very much dislike the way in which this matter has been brought before the House today.

For Duncan Hames, it was all about the potential consequences of such a rule change and how that would affect the balance of power between Speaker, House and the Executive:

Posted in News and Parliament | Also tagged , and | 10 Comments

Why have Liberal Democrats indulged the Tories’ Bercow bashing?

By any standards, the last minute motion to change the rules on Speaker election is pure bad manners. Filed with less than a day’s notice when many MPs will already have left Westminster, it asks MPs to approve a secret ballot on the re-election of the Speaker. Up until now, MPs have voted in the traditional manner. The election of a Speaker when there is a vacancy is already conducted by secret ballot.

The actual proposal itself is not unreasonable, for consistency’s sake and was recommended by the Commons Procedure Committee as the Guardian article linked to above says:

Tory and Lib Dem sources rejected Labour claims they had acted in an underhand way. They said they were following the convention of allowing MPs to vote on the recommendations of the procedure committee. But Nick Clegg, who is spending the day in his Sheffield Hallam constituency after his weekly LBC phone-in, will not be present for the vote.

So when did the Procedure Committee make that recommendation? I looked through their recent report which suggested revisions to Commons standing orders and it wasn’t in there. There was stuff about elections and by-elections for Deputy Speakers and even a change in lunch breaks on Thursdays in public bill committees (up till now the poor little loves might go hungry – how cruel), but nothing about Speaker elections or re-elections. You have to go back almost five years, to 2010, to find that recommendation. There has been more than enough time to have that vote, so why leave it till the last possible moment?

Posted in Op-eds and Parliament | Also tagged | 54 Comments

European Arrest Warrant: I’m a sceptic (but not a Eurosceptic)

As I write, the House of Commons is debating the European Arrest Warrant (EAW).

Well, sort of. In fact, the Speaker, John Bercow, has already pointed out that “there will not today be a vote on the specific matter of membership of the European arrest warrant”. But Home Secretary Theresa May and Justice Secretary Chris Grayling say there will. In the Tories’ Alice in Wonderland world, when they use the word vote it means just what they choose it to mean, neither more nor less.

As with any debate involving Europe, there is a danger of it being used as …

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MPs and expenses: return to an unwelcome past

Oh dear:

MPs are trying to block publication of material which could show they are renting their taxpayer-funded homes to each other, it is claimed.

Expenses watchdog The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) is considering an Freedom

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 22 Comments

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