by Stephen Tall on June 11, 2009
Over at The Times, the two Lib Dem candidates for the position of Speaker of the House of Commons – Sir Menzies Campbell and Sir Alan Beith – set out their manifestos, stating what reforming credentials they would bring to this most historic of offices. Excerpts below:
What is needed is a Speaker who imposes their authority on the House of Commons, not their politics; a Speaker who will stand up for all MPs and when necessary stand up against the Government of the day; a Speaker who will not be intimidated.
The primary purpose of the House of Commons is to hold the Government to account. For too long the procedures of the House have been biased to ensure governments get their business through with minimal inconvenience. The new Speaker should make it clear that the existing rules will be interpreted to ensure scrutiny gets a much higher priority. If the present rules do not allow for that the Speaker should promote rules that do. The Today programme is no substitute for Parliament.
Prime Minister’s Questions is seen by many constituents as worse than a school playground. A new Speaker should get backbenchers and party leaders together to discuss how to make it work effectively and rationally. It has different functions, not all of which need to be dealt with through the same procedures: it enables MPs to raise issues affecting their constituents directly and publicly with the Prime Minister. It serves as a test of whether party leaders and the PM can carry the confidence of their own parties in the way they present their case. But as a mechanism for getting real answers to questions and challenging inadequate answers it is hopeless.
You can read their articles in full (together with John Bercow’s) HERE.