It's been a very confident 24 hours for John Bercow. He rebuked the Defence Secretary yesterday for his "rank discourtesy" to the Commons for late publication of the Bernard Gray report. This morning he is in the newspapers urging MPs to repay money owed under the Legg review. Today he is making the ground on scrutiny of ministers in the Lords.
This morning's Guardian reports that government ministers Lords Adonis and Mandelson may soon be subject to direct scrutiny from MPs if the new Speaker gets his way.
As a first step ministers from the Lords will appear before MPs in the debating chamber off the medieval Westminster Hall but Mr Bercow's eventual hope is for ministers from the Lords to sit alongside their ministerial colleagues on the Commons government frontbench to answer questions.
The Guardian reports that Lord Mandelson is "full of enthusiasm" for the planned changes while Lord Adonis wrote to the Speaker saying that he would be "very willing to oblige".
Procedures put in place now will likely be very relevant to a Tory government should it be elected next year. David Cameron is expected to make a large number of appointments to the Lords and some of them will be senior ministers. Former MP Lord Bates of Langbaurgh is one tipped for a major job in a Conservative administration.
The Conservative front bench in the House of Lords has been slightly reshuffled.
The recently enobled Lord Bates of Langbaurgh (right) becomes Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, and also a Whip. As Michael Bates, he was MP for Langbaurgh between 1992 and 1997. The constituency has been abolished, and is essentially now Middlesbrough South & East Cleveland. Lord Bates is a former Paymaster General.
Throughout his time in politics Michael has been a tireless advocate for the Conservative Party in the North East of England and for the North East at Westminster. Working recently with William Hague on Campaign North and the Northern Board as Deputy Chairman of the Party (North) the party has done well to promote a proven talent to another key role as we approach the General Election. Lord Bates will make a great contribution to the Shadow Team.
Commenting on his appointment Lord Bates said:
"I am delighted to be called to the Front Bench at such a critical time for the country and the Party. The country is crying out for a change from this cynical old Labour administration that has brought us to the brink of bankruptcy. It will be a huge honour to work with the Shadow Cabinet Office ministerial team preparing the Conservative Party for a return to government under David Cameron. I am also delighted to be working in the Opposition Whips' Office, since my arrival in the House of lords I have been hugely impressed at the skill of Lord Strathclyde and Baroness Anelay in deftly exposing ill-conceived legislation and ensuring an arrogant and out of touch government who treat Parliament with disdain regularly get their comeuppance in their Lordships House."
Lord de Mauley becomes Shadow Minister for Innovation, Universities and Skills. Baroness Morris has asked to stand down as Shadow Minister for Children, Schools and Families (and is replaced by Baroness Verma) but remains Shadow Minister for Women in the Whips Office.
The Tory leader in the House of Lords, Lord Strathclyde, commented:
"I am delighted to welcome Lord Bates on to the frontbench, he brings significant experience as a former minister, and insight drawn from a successful career in business."
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