Saturday, 5 September 2009

Speaker of the House

I have to agree with Shane Greer that the convention that the speaker stand unopposed is undemocratic.

It strikes me that the Conservative plan to reduce the number of MPs is an ideal opportunity to resolve the issue, with a rather more considerable change than simply contesting the Speaker's seat. Why not also have a Speaker who is not an MP at all? Elect an MP to the chair, but his or her appointment triggers removal from the seat and a by-election. Then not only is representation restored for the constituency of the Speaker, but it would be easier to avoid the bias Speaker Martin showed in favour of his party.

I realise that this would be a considerable constitutional change, but not nearly as great as the changes Labour instigated to the post of Lord Chancellor. They screwed that up, but if the Conservatives use more forethought this could happen in a couple of years, starting a convention that the Speaker resigns in the middle of an administration, not so close to an election that a constituency has two elections in a few months. A good excuse to elect a new Speaker on those revised terms, and Bercow can stand again for his job.

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