Update on the Speakership

Conservatives like George Young and Frank Field as leading candidates. It is likely Michael Lord, a deputy Speaker, may run. Sir Alan Haslehurst, also a Deputy Speaker, is another possibility. These too could attract some Conservative support.

What matters more is how Labour MPs will vote, given the much larger number of Labour MPs. There does not yet seem to be a Labour establishment candidate. Labour MPs do not necessarily warm to Frank Field, given the independent and critical role he has performed in recent years. A couple I spoke too favour John Bercow.

Alan Beith has also said he would like to stand. I have not yet come across any of his supporters.


  1. backofanenvelope
    May 20, 2009

    Parliament is supreme. You cannot have supremacy if you are regulated by someone else – they are then supreme. You Tories should say you will wait for Kelly’s report and will consider it. Not, as The Great Helmsman says, enact it.

    By the way, I rather like the idea that it is a gentleman’s club. Most of us still know how to behave like a gentleman, even if we are a lady. The Great Helmsman, of course, has never been a gentleman.

    Stick up for Parliament Mr Redwood!

    1. eeyore
      May 20, 2009

      Lord Salisbury refused to lay down rules of behaviour and propriety for his Cabinet. “They’re all gentlemen,” he said, “and know how to behave.” And they did too.

    2. Denis Cooper
      May 20, 2009

      I agree. I’m also slightly puzzled, because I thought MPs agreed long ago that in the future their salaries would be tied to some Civil Service band, and surely there’ll also some Civil Service system for expenses? Which may well cover unusual cases where somebody normally based in say, Newcastle, was seconded to Whitehall for a period, and therefore would require accommodation in the London area during the working week. Basically that’s the problem to be solved – how to enable an MP to attend Parliament in Westminster, when his constituency is not within easy commuting distance of Westminster.

      Reply: We did tie them to a civil service band – then civil service pay went up a lot so Parliament thought MPs pay should not follow it up.

  2. alan jutson
    May 20, 2009

    So the Speaker has gone/is going.

    At last we are starting to get some commonsense back into Parliament with Brown, Cameron and Clegg with others, sat around a table to dicuss the modification of the expenses fiasco.

    After one simple meeting, we have what is now a much more sensible set of interim guidelines.

    This is a meeting which could have happened weeks ago if the Prime Minister had not been so obdurate and fixated on his own ideas. But then that is the real problem, he will not listen !!!!

    Whilst I am appalled that this expenses situation was allowed to develop in the first place, the silver lining is that we perhaps now have many more people interested in politics than before, even though at the moment it is with disgust.

    Perhaps just perhaps, an increased number of people will now take a little more interest than they did before. If so MP’s may just may, be held to account a little more often.

    On a lighter note:
    just recieved an “e” mail which gives food for thought.

    Dear Mr Darling Please find enclosed my suggestion for fixing Britains economy. Instead of giving Billions of pounds to the Banks for them to squander use the following plan.
    call it the Patriotic Retirement Plan.

    There are about 20 million people over 50 in the workforce. Pay them £1 million each for early retirement with the following stipulations.
    1. They must retire. Twenty million job openings. Unemployment fixed.
    2. They must buy a new British Car. Twenty million cars ordered. Car industry fixed.
    3. They must either buy a new house or pay off mortgage. housing crisis fixed, and some Capital into the Banks.
    4.They must buy at least £50 worth of alcohol/tobacco a week, so you get your money back.

    Clearly not a complete solution, not worked out the figures, it discriminates against, those under 50 or who have already retired, but shows what you could do with a sum less than what the Banks have already got.

    Food for thought ???????

  3. Waramess
    May 20, 2009

    Having a secret ballot is akin to being blindfolded with a sheet of clear plastic, and the electorate know it: the parties will gang together to chose the new incumbent.

    None of this will deflect the public’s anger, not only at the expenses frauds but at the expenses scandal.

    MP’s who have defrauded should end up in prison but, a far greater proportion have broken no rules; they have simply shown contempt for the amount of trust their self devised system permitted them.

    So, I would guess the public want heads, plenty of them and nothing less. Other than those jailed members we might expect others, who have treated the expenses system with contempt, to lose any cabinet and shadow cabinet jobs and be denied future positions of influence or trust within the party.

    No good trying to play to the audience, the system of retribution has to be transparent and without mercy or the electorate will never believe a word.

    Good luck to the Conservatives at the Euro elections, they will need it. Since none of the three main opposition parties have committed unreservedly to a free vote on the Lisbon Treaty a lot of people will feel obliged to place their vote elsewhere.

    Well, after all, if the unwashed rabble are to rebel they may as well now do it in style

  4. Brian Tomkinson
    May 20, 2009

    Last night I posted the following to your previous blog which for some reason is still awaiting moderation, although all subsequent comments have been approved:
    “On my limited knowledge, Frank Field would be my choice. I hear that Labour MPs are backing John Bercow. I should hope that he would NOT be elected.”

  5. Josh
    May 20, 2009

    Why is John Bercow still a member of the Tory Party? I’m sure Harriet Harman will welcome him with open arms.

  6. ELF
    May 20, 2009

    PS – If Cameron has agreed this, he should un-agree it. If not, MPs should assert themselves.

  7. Bob Jones
    May 20, 2009

    Given the likelyhood of a Conservative government in the next year, I think the speaker should be from Labour or the Liberals – not the Tories. Frank Field is the best man for the job, Ming could be a possibility.

    1. Denis Cooper
      May 20, 2009

      As far as I’m aware, none of the Liberal Democrat MPs are committed to maintaining the legal supremacy of our national Parliament, instead preferring to see our subordination within a European federation.

      So none of them would be suitable candidates for Speaker.

      That’s certainly the case for Menzies Campbell.

      To take it to the extreme, the Sinn Fein MPs are not allowed to take their Commons seats because they refuse to swear the Oath of Allegiance, so it would obviously be ridiculous to propose that Gerry Adams or Martin McGuiness should become Speaker.

      The same should apply to MPs who take the Oath of Allegiance, but who don’t whole-heartedly mean it because their primary loyalty is to the EU.

  8. Paul Geddes
    May 20, 2009

    The next Speaker will, aside from all the usual qualifications to please parliamentarians, have to please the people, being someone whose fitness to preside and authority inside the House is both unchallenged and seen to be unchallengeable. The only person now who could enjoy such esteem, who no MP would seek to undermine for fear less of opprobrium from colleagues more of never again being able even to set foot in their constituencies is Joanna Lumley. Her eligibility should be provided for by her being the unopposed candidate in Speaker Martin’s Glasgow seat.

  9. David Eyles
    May 20, 2009

    Bercow is fingered by Guido as having been an enthusiastic claimer of expenses; Haslehurst ditto. So that rules them out. I don’t know anything about Michael Lord and I doubt the majority of the public do either. This means that the public perception will tend towards distrust.

    On the other hand, Frank Field has a good public image as someone who is known to be fearlessly independent and is untouched by the recent problems. So, if I were a Labour MP with a genuine concern for the long term health of British democracy, I would vote for him. The trouble is that Field’s independence has not endeared himself to his own tribe, and that may be his downfall. We are most likely to wind up with someone who is mediocre and unable or unwilling to make the reforms neccessary to bring power and democracy back to Parliament.

    And the Labour Party will have failed the people of the United Kingdom once again.

  10. Frugal Dougal
    May 20, 2009

    Over the next few days, I think it will penetrate Labour MPs’ and party members’ heads that the “highest commoner” in the land has been toppled. None of those with dirty hands are safe. Although some Labour members assisted in doing what was right, I think Conservative MPs especially should be congatulated in pressing for what is right; and also members of the public for demanding the removal of the guilty.

    Most of all, however, I think Her Majesty the Queen should be recognised for her role in this: she knew when to hold back from public action, so that we could rediscover our voice.

    1. [[NAME EDITED]]
      May 20, 2009

      “She knew when to hold back from public action” – very wise of her, no doubt, but when – as far as we know – has she ever done anything else? Whatever action she takes, if any, must always have been in secret.

  11. APL
    May 20, 2009

    “Frank Field ”

    On the basis that when invited to think the unthinkable by Blair, he did, and it is rumoured that Brown got rid of him. That makes him a good guy in my book.

    We do need a Speaker who will be independent of the executive and have some sympathy with and speak for the house.

    Someone who will be able to have an opinion and occassionally be prepared to bend the rules if necessary.

    Oh, last but not least, select someone who can speak from a script, better yet, can speak without a script.

    backof anenvelope: “You cannot have supremacy if you are regulated by someone else – they are then supreme.”


    One other point. Given Gordon Browns performance on ‘shiny new systems’ which have catastrophically failed, do we really think he is the right person to put together another new regulatory framework? Especially at the dog end of his administration.

    What we need, is a clearly defined pay and remuneration system for MPs such that it is clear when a claim is excessive.

    As someone else said a while ago, why does it take an inquiry and six months to come up with a system for MPs when the obvious solution is to adopt the expences system in place for employees in industry?

    1. lovelylady
      May 22, 2009

      Agree. Frank Field would inspire confidence because he is not a mechanical puppet for any Party. Plus, although I expect this comment will not be published, Mr Carswell MP has picked the best time to promote his book. And, who are Bearwood Corporate Services? Perhaps, Mr Cameron, who is fabulous, could address this please sir?

  12. Robert Eve
    May 20, 2009

    Although it would mean the third Labour Speaker in a row I do believe that Frank Field has the necessary qualifications.

    How many Labour MPs would vote for him though?

  13. backofanenvelope
    May 20, 2009

    Perhaps it would better if a speaker was selected who would drive thru’ reform but know that a more permanent replacement would replace him, or her, when reform was complete.

  14. SJB
    May 20, 2009

    Frank Field has always struck me as rather sanctimonious when I have seen him on tv. He reminds me of a vicar about to preach to us about our faults. Not sure I could stand listening to that voice of his for several years. Is he the man to lead reform? He quit as a Minister of State after barely a year and it is reported he argued with Blair to make him a Secretary of State.

    Sir George Young, on the other hand, I could see as Speaker. Educated at Eton & Oxford and, as far as I know, gets on well with MPs. I understand one of the reasons he did not get it in 2000 was because of (what was then) his recent front bench experience in the Major government.

    1. DBC Reed
      May 23, 2009

      I don’t suppose many leftish MP’s took very kindly to Young calling the homeless ,when Housing Minister in 1991″ The sort of people you step over when leaving the opera.”

  15. Shakassoc
    May 20, 2009

    I would suggest Richard Shepherd as the ideal Speaker. You know his qualities, Mr Redwood. I hope you will feel able to support him if he bcomes a candidate.

  16. Mike Stallard
    May 20, 2009

    The next Speaker should definitely be Frank Field, with Harriet Harman as the Co Speaker. They should be given the instruction:

    1. APL
      May 22, 2009

      “Harriet Harman”

      It would be pretty unthinkable that Harman (leader of a House where too many have claimed too much -ed)should benefit in any way from the passing of the last speaker.

      Now the next GOB SMACKING revelation to emerge, MPs have excepted themselves from the tax code!

  17. Matt
    May 20, 2009

    Alan Beith – is MP near to my neck of the woods, on the borders.
    Nice guy well thought of by his constituents, but may be a bit limited for the job.

    It would be good to have a speaker that isn’t chosen from the “Reserve squad”

  18. DBC Reed
    May 21, 2009

    If ex-Speaker Martin was not looking too deeply into the MPs’ expenses dodge being facilitated by the Fees Office (partly to make up for MP’s salaries being pegged for political reasons ) why did n’t they discreetly support him?His disgrace has kept the hounds off for a day; now they are in full cry again after those MP’s who have not shewn restraint.They had a diligent shop steward in Martin but there are too many arrogant snobs in the Conservative Party who like to think they are so rich and powerful they need not find common cause with their own class (of politicians receiving public-sector money).
    One thing this affaire has shewn voters is that there are a lot of old money landed gentry Tories who don’t need subsidies but still put in for them while preaching self-reliance (for other people).

  19. APL
    May 21, 2009

    DBC Reed: “One thing this affaire has shewn voters is that there are a lot of old money landed gentry Tories who don’t need subsidies but still put in for them while preaching self-reliance (for other people).”

    We know that. For the record we also know for example, the European CAP is abused by the largest estate holders in the Land.

    That is not an argument against owning land. It is a argument against government subsidy.

    Let them stand on their own two feet. Stop ‘subsidy mining’, by stopping subsidies!

  20. Andrew Duffin
    May 22, 2009

    Frank Field is unquestionably one of the good guys.

    If he were appointed Speaker, he would effectively be muzzled. We would hear no more of his views on welfare reform. This would be a bad thing. It would also be highly acceptable to the current Prime Minister, so would be a double-bad thing.

    Frank Field needs to remain on the back benches, for the good of the country.

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