The Speaker

6 Dec 2011 15:29:57

A motion seeking to prevent ministers leaking policy before addressing Parliament is defeated

By Joseph Willits 
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HolloboneProposals to give Parliament the power to take action on ministers who leak announcements to the media, before informing the Commons, have failed. The motion tabled by Phillip Hollobone MP (Kettering), aimed to be as "non-partisan as possible", was defeated by 228 votes to 119. Hollobone accused all three major parties of mistreating the House of Commons:

"All Governments, whether this Government, the previous Government or the one before that, have leaked information, and that is not how our great House of Commons ought to be treated".

On Sunday, Tim outlined the Speaker's exasperation, after last week's Autumn Statement was the latest example of policy being leaked to the press beforehand. Naturally, Hollobone expressed the same sentiment as the Speaker, saying that Parliament "should be the first place to hear of major new Government policy initiatives". He continued: 

"Should it be “The Andrew Marr Show” on Sunday, the “Today” programme on Radio 4 in the morning or ITV’s “Daybreak”; or should it be the Chamber of the House of Commons?" 

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24 Nov 2011 09:29:30

Parliamentary authorities clamping down on "political" material in the Palace of Westminster?

By Matthew Barrett
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BurrowesInCommonsA question asked yesterday by Conservative MP David Burrowes suggests that Parliamentary authorities are restricting the rights of constituents to bring material of a political nature into Parliament. The incident in question occured when a constituent from Mr Burrowes' Enfield Southgate division tried to attend a Palestine-focused lobby meeting. The full question - and Mr Deputy Speaker's unfortunately unhelpful answer - was:

"Mr David Burrowes (Enfield, Southgate) (Con): On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. Something happened to one of my constituents today that is of fundamental importance, I believe, to all hon. Members regarding constituents’ access to Parliament. My constituent attended a Palestine lobby, similar to one she has attended on many previous occasions, but on this occasion things were different. As she arrived at security, a police officer confiscated her lobby briefing material and told her that she was not allowed to have anything of a political nature. In fact, she was told that this was a direction from the House authorities. The officer then spoke to a senior officer, who gave the same response. Eventually, the material was returned to her, but she was told, “Yes, we will return this material, but do not do this again.” I ask your advice, Mr Deputy Speaker. Was this a direction from the House authorities? Will you confirm that constituents are not allowed to have anything of a political nature with them when they attend Parliament?

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): This is a matter for the staff and the police. The hon. Gentleman will know that we do not discuss security issues or what has gone on as a matter of security, but he has put his views on the record. I am sure that the authorities and security will look into the matter, and I am sure that someone will come back to the hon. Gentleman now that he has raised it on the Floor of the House."

The appropriate section of Hansard can be found here.

6pm Update: Political Scrapbook has more details on the objectionable material in question:

"Scrapbook has spoken with the woman concerned, who says the officers told her this was “a directive of the Serjeant-at-Arms”. You can view the materials which the officers found so objectionable here."

13 Jul 2011 15:00:13

PMQs: Speaker Bercow vs. Minister Loughton

By Matthew Barrett
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One of the moments of excitement from today's Prime Minister's Questions was a clash between John Bercow and Childrens Minister Tim Loughton, which appears to be a further installment in an ongoing series of exchanges between the two .

As can be seen from the video above, an angry and ruffled Speaker Bercow singled out Loughton, telling him to "calm down" and "behave like an adult". Bercow then said if Loughton couldn't comply, he should "leave the Chamber, get out, we'll manage without you."

Very shortly after, the Speaker stopped proceedings again, telling Loughton "No, it's not funny, only in your mind, Mr Loughton, is it funny. It's not funny at all, it's disgraceful."

Mr Loughton has since tweeted:


4 Dec 2008 11:32:46

The Speaker's statement on Damian Green

Damian_greenHansard has the full report of the Speaker's statement on Shadow Immigration Minister Damian Green and subsequent contributions from MPs here. There will be a debate on the issue on Monday.

Some highlights from yesterday are reproduced below.

The Speaker is to be commended for one thing: offering no public comment before addressing Parliament:

"In the past few days there has been much pressure on me to make public comment about these matters, but I felt that it was right and fitting that I should make no comment until Parliament reconvenes, because it is this House and this House alone that I serve, as well as being accountable for the actions of its Officers. I should emphasise from the start that it is not for me to comment on the allegations that have been made against the hon. Member or on the disposal of those allegations in the judicial process."

After making the point that Parliament is not a "haven from the law", Speaker Martin gave an outline of events:

"On Wednesday last, the Metropolitan police informed the Serjeant at Arms that an arrest was contemplated, but did not disclose the identity of the Member. I was told in the strictest confidence by her that a Member might be arrested and charged, but no further details were given to me. I was told that they might be forthcoming the next morning.

At 7 am on Thursday, police called upon the Serjeant at Arms and explained the background to the case, and disclosed to the Serjeant the identity of the Member. The Serjeant at Arms called me, told me the Member’s name and said that a search might take place of his offices in the House. I was not told that the police did not have a warrant. [Hon. Members: “Ah!”] Order. I have been told that the police did not explain, as they are required to do, that the Serjeant was not obliged to consent, or that a warrant could have been insisted upon. [ Interruption. ] Order. Let me make the statement. I regret that a consent form was then signed by the Serjeant at Arms, without consulting the Clerk of the House.

I must make it clear to the House— [ Interruption. ] Order. I must make it clear to the House that I was not asked the question of whether consent should be given, or whether a warrant should have been insisted on. I did not personally authorise the search. It was later that evening that I was told that the search had gone ahead only on the basis of a consent form. I further regret that I was formally told by the police only yesterday, by letter from Assistant Commissioner Robert Quick, that the hon. Member was arrested on 27 November on suspicion of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office and on suspicion of aiding and abetting misconduct in public office."

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