Yesterday, Conservative MP John Bercow was elected Speaker of the House of Commons. The election of a new Speaker is a time of renewal and I wish John Bercow well as he takes on his big new challenge. The Speaker’s role is to chair the debates in the Chamber of Commons, to act as the House of Commons’ representative with outside bodies (including the Lords and the Crown) and to protect the interests of minority parties in the House.
John Bercow presented a modernising agenda in his application speech. He promised…
– to implement an agenda for reform and for the reassertion of the core values of Parliament,
– to radically reform the system of allowances (he committed to Sir Christopher Kelly’s recommendations),
– to strengthen the role of Back Benchers,
– to hold the Prime Minister and any successor to his pledge to restore authority to Parliament,
– to enhance the scrutiny of budgets and legislation, both domestic and European,
– to oblige Ministers to make key policy statements in the Chamber of Commons first,
– to be an advocate for Parliament’s political relevance, and
– to serve no longer than nine years in total.
I back these proposals and support a reform agenda, as I made clear in my recent Letchworth speech (see below)…
Speaker Bercow spoke of a “crisis of confidence in parliamentarians themselves” and “the need to move the debate on from sleaze and second homes”. The House of Commons needs cleansing. The new Speaker is a start, but we really need a General Election.