The Speaker’s Statement

The Speaker’s Statement failed to reassure an unhappy House.

He did say he is calling in the party Leaders to try to reach an agreement on a new system for expenses. That is too little too late.

He did not say what his personal plans are. He was subject to a barrage of hostile Points of Order.

It appeared from the exchanges that the Motion of No Confidence has to be tabled by the government. All the forces of opposition in the House should make clear they want the government to do so.

If the government has any wisdom it will do so for tomorrow. If Labour wishes to retain this Speaker, they can then vote for him and he will have a renewed mandate of sorts. If enough of them now wish to change Speakers, he will go.

We then have an election for a new Speaker, under the new procedures of secret ballot.
If Labour use their votes wisely we will have a Speaker who can begin to lead us out of this mire. If they help the House chose badly, a new Parliament can always challenge the newish Speaker on its first day.

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24 Comments

  1. Mark
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    John – Please sign Douglas Carswell’s motion! 🙂

  2. Paul
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    R.I.P.

    18th May, 2009

    The day that parliamentary democracy died. The Mother of Parliaments passed away after 800 years at 15.30 this afternoon.

    God rest her soul

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted May 18, 2009 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

      I’m not that pessimistic, because we’ve been here before, and we’ve recovered.

      I came across this article listing MPs expelled from the Commons since the Restoration:

      http://www.election.demon.co.uk/expulsions.html

      and it actually includes one serving Speaker.

      On March 6th 1695, Sir John Trevor, who was Speaker, was expelled for taking a 1,000 guinea payment related to the passage of a Bill.

  3. Sue
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    He’s certainly determined to hang on tooth and nail. I thought his desperation was quite amusing. He looked like he was losing it. He should show some “honour” and resign. He would get far more respect.

  4. Mike Stallard
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    Apparently, he stands to gain £100,000 if he can cling on until the election.
    From the Labour point of view, it has been a terrible mistake to put placemen in where there should be unbiased referees and servants.
    If you do not listen to the opposition (antithesis), how can you expect to arrive at a sensible synthesis?
    I thought every Marxist knew that.
    Heaven help Labour when the Conservatives get in! If they do the same replacement strategy, they will be annihilated and then the whole process will start off all over again with a vast, unstoppable majority pummelling its way through to eventual disaster.

  5. witteringsfromwitney
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Sorry Mr. Redwood but I believe you miss the point here.

    Where was the MP to suggest that Michael Martin vacated the chair so a debate could be held? Not the ‘done thing’? Not the ‘Convention’?

    If David Cameron does not wish to break ‘convention’ by calling for Martin’s replacement, why does he not write to Gordon Brown and demand the government provide time for Carswell’s motion to be debated? Would that no be providing the change and leadership he continually speaks about?

    To be fair, Michael Martin is but an example of the corruption – and I use the word in the moral sense, not the financial sense – that exists in Parliament today, in that too many of the claims for aca and expenses do not fall into the category of ‘wholly and exclusively’ necessary to enable an MP to do his job.

    All MPs, regardless of party, should be forced to substantiate their expenses and aca claims to their electorate in open meetings, likewise reselection should be by open primaries as anyone elected to the position of MP is supposed to represent all the constituents. It is after all is said and done our, the people’s, Parliament so should we not have a say in who represents us?

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted May 19, 2009 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

      Comrade, that is not how we socialists work.
      To protect the Leader, we select, very carefully, a couple of human sacrifices who have betrayed the cause and then, very slowly and carefully, we use them as human sacrifices to appease our gods.
      At the moment, there is a Junior Minster and the MP for Luton South who are fulfilling this role.
      The Speaker will, however, be protected until the election on June 21st.
      He is not a wrecker, a Trot, or a secret tory.

  6. FatBigot
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    It was inevitable that Mr Martin’s address would be too little too late. Whatever he said it would be too late (time’s like that once it’s gone, it’s gone). It had to be too little, he could not possibly cure the problem because any new regime is for the House not the Speaker. By leaving it so very late he made a rod for his own back.

    Having said that, his address really was atrociously limp. Leadership in the current mess requires at least an interim new system being proposed and time being found for debate later this week. Even that would be too little but, I suspect, it is as much as could be done. To announce that he is merely going to have a meeting with party leaders doesn’t take the matter forward.

    A pretty poor performance, made even worse by his not knowing the procedure applicable to Mr Carswell’s Motion.

  7. alan jutson
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    Have already posted comments under Speaker may stay Blog

    Watched it on TV this afternoon.

    What a bloody shambles.

    General Election time.

    Would not be surprised if next week this lot will want to control you going to the toilet.

  8. THE ESSEX BOYS
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    We watched live coverage of this afternoon’s events with incredulity. That one man should be able to put his personal interest before that of Parliament and its members and staff is totally unacceptable.

    Our belief is that Speaker Martin is sufficiently ‘streetwise’ to know the game is up and he is, in fact, embarking now on maximisation of his termination reward. We see this time and again with company executives so let’s not confuse his motives.
    He wants that £100,000 and probably a guaranteed seat in the House of Lords.
    Our belief is that the PM knows this full well and will find a way of giving it to him with the Speaker gone by this weekend.
    Naturally Mr Brown will seek credit for fixing it – but at a disgraceful cost!

    Whatever happens good MPs and the public will have proved that they are ‘AS MAD AS HELL AND JUST WON’T TAKE IT ANYMORE’!!

  9. Brigham
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    The incompetency of the Speaker is breathtaking. He has been in the position for nine years, but during his attempt to squirm his way out of trouble he had to ask, on several occasions, what the procedure was. A person as useless as this should be one of Brown’s spin doctors.

  10. david
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    I want to see Martin go, but if MP’s vote him out of office, those who have been on the fiddle, shouldn’t be allowed to vote, and when he leaves, they should leave with him.

  11. oldtimer
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    I believe that Martin is working hand in glove with Brown on this. It is an attempt to create another dividing line of the “working class” Speaker vs Tory toffs. This is the consistent message of sundry Labour spokesmen during the day. Brown`s call for a cap on mortgage interest payments is an obvious example. Cameron needs to be wary. So far I believe he has not yet put a foot wrong. The call for a general election is the right response.

  12. Dave
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    John,

    Sadly the media aren’t reporting this in any real depth, they’re just going for the speaker in trouble headlines. I’m unsure what the “what ifs?” are.

    Am I to understand that only HM’s Government (i.e. Labour) can cause a debate on the speaker, and that unless they do so HM’s Opposition and other MPs are unable to do anything other than put pressure on Labour to table a debate?

    Could a debate be tabled for an Opposition day?

    If there was a vote of No Confidence in the speaker, what percentage would need to be attained, and would this percentage be of all MPs who voted, or of all MPs? Would it simply be a majority of “No Confidence” votes would do it?

    As for David Cameron stating that the Conservative Party should not openly oppose the speaker due to convention…. I do understand the reason behind the convention, in fact I believe the problems we have with the Speaker are due to Labour breaking convention for his appointment. However does that mean that the Conservative Party as a whole have no opinion, but individual MPs are not obliged to hold an opinion one way or the other and can indeed speak against the Speaker?

  13. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    I knew that Martin wouldn’t be prepared to forego the £100,000 pay-off he will get if he stays until the next election. He should go and go now but his pals in Labour may save him. In the meantime I have happily signed the Conservative party’s petition calling for an immediate general election. I have advocated this for quite some time and hope that David Cameron will follow up this initiative with a No Confidence motion in the House of Commons. This Parliament has no credibility and is quite incapable of tackling the massive problems which best the country.

  14. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, end of last sentence should read “beset the country.”

  15. APL
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    JR: “It appeared from the exchanges that the Motion of No Confidence has to be tabled by the government. All the forces of opposition in the House should make clear they want the government to do so.”

    ?

    Doesn’t this just illustrate the hand in glove nature of this Speaker and this government?

    The commons selected him, surely the commons still has the authority, if not the backbone to get rid of him.

    If this were a real Parliament, the government would answer to the commons, nor would the Speaker be clinging on to his position at the pleasure of the executive.

    Shameful!

  16. Mike Edinburgh
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

    Mike Stallard
    A lot more than £100,000 is at risk e.g. up to GE a generous salary and expenses and use of grace and favour home.

  17. Oliver Dearlove
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    .

    as a past Oxford Don, you will be aware of the inconsistency in that both party leaders have said that the debate and votes on a speaker is not party political

    and yet the party in power has to present the motion for debate on a speaker.

    all this claude and montague – after you claude, oh no, after YOU montague – shilly shallying over something like corruption and expenses will just get you ALL kicked out of parliament at the next election.

    Leaders, please lead.

    Oliver Dearlove

    DIdnt Oliver Cromwell say something like:
    go, you have all had your snouts in the trough long enough, for Gods sake go !

  18. Mike Paterson
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    Good Lord, the man can’t even read a short statement printed on a piece of paper; he’s illiterate! How embarrassing. For all of us.

  19. Elle
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    “… the Motion of No Confidence has to be tabled by the government …”

    Why?

    I, as an ordinary member of the public, thought the Speaker was supposed to speak for Parliament, not the government.

    If it’s true then it suggests that whichever party is in government controls the position of Speaker, and is the only party that can elect, select or dismiss the Speaker, not Parliament as a whole.

    Or am I just being plain stupid?

    Reply: The government controls the business of the House because it has the majority, and therefore should know what the majority will vote for and wishes to discuss. There are times when Opposition parties can chose the debates, and backbench memebrs can put in for Adjournment debates.

  20. Robert
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    I have just read Lady Betty Boothroyd’s speech which she made on leaving the Speakers chair. I suspect Mr Martin never has. All MP’s would do well to read her words and realise that Mr Martin has to go.

    It is far more important than Party.

  21. Denis Cooper
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

    If the new procedure for electing the Speaker is by secret ballot, how will you know for sure how any MP has voted, and whether the new Speaker owes his election just to Labour MPs?

    Reply: We will not know for sure who have voted for him or her, but the House often has a good sense of these things. The nature of the candidate who succeeds will tell us a lot.

  22. Robin
    Posted May 19, 2009 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    A lot of MPs (mostly Labour) want the speaker to stay because he, like them, has been troughing and will implictly protect them by protecting himself.

    On the other hand they are too weak to say they support him publically because the voters will punish them.

    MPs can and will sit on their hands and keep their mouths shut. Anything MPs say can and will be used in the court of public opinion against them.

    The only thing that will shift MPs is if their constituents email them (as I have done to Walton-on-Thames) and tell them the game’s up.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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