Well – when I arrived in Parliament in ’05 – Michael Martin was in the Chair. As I knew nothing about business in the House – and assumed that the Speaker knew everything – I just thought that was the way it had been done from time immemorial – and thus would it be ever – biased to calling those MPs from Scotland and men! Well – that is how it seemed to me.
Anyway – when John Bercow was elected (and I supported his bid after our own candidate Alan Beith was eliminated) I was delighted by his ability to manage business. Oh – what a difference. He is bright and witty and doesn’t let Ministers drone on – or questions bumble along never getting to the ask. He gets through more business. More people get opportunities to speak. And he understands the more complex demands that sometimes rear their heads.
My colleague, former MP David Howarth (stepped down at election – completely brilliant, in love with constitutions, standing orders and the minutiae that passes me by – but by which means confounds the processes of the House of Commons) was always using a standing order not used for decades to force a vote, or get an amendment taken or other dastardly confusions. Bercow actually understands the stuff.
Of course – I would prefer the chamber of the House of Commons to be horse shoe in shape, use language and form of language commonly understood by everyone, using names as well as constituencies (to humanise) and many other modernisations. However, for now, we simply have ‘new politics’ in the form of our fledgling coalition – but one day – I hope for greater change – where games with standing orders are not required to try and get business properly addressed and scrutinised in the elected chamber.
Today the questions is – will there be a revolt (by some Conservatives) against Bercow continuing as Speaker and a challenge – or will he prevail? I hope he prevails.