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Michael Howard asks the Speaker to explain himself over Damian Green case

Michael_howardYesterday Michael Howard made a point of order in the Commons:

"On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You responded yesterday to the letter written to you last week, signed by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Clarke), the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Fife (Sir Menzies Campbell), the right hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Field) and me. In that letter, we asked you to give precedence to our complaint of breach of privilege in respect of the arrest of my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Damian Green). You have declined that request, which means the House does not have the opportunity to consider whether the matter should be referred to the Standards and Privileges Committee. I wonder, Mr. Speaker, whether you will be prepared to give the House this afternoon your reasons for declining that request?

Mr. Speaker: No. The right hon. and learned Gentleman knows well that I do not give my reasons. I have declined the invitation from him and his parliamentary colleagues, but I do not give reasons."

It is right that MPs treat the Speaker with respect in the House of Commons. He holds a great office, and it is vital that MPs defer to that office. It is one of Mr Howard's many qualities that he has considerable reverence for Parliament. But Michael Martin should not expect to be free from criticism elsewhere. And he can afford to show a little more humility without losing face.

Sadly, he has never looked like he is up to his job. His predecessor Betty Boothroyd was superb. Contrastingly, Speaker Martin has frequently given the impression that he doesn't understand procedure and is unwilling to set aside partisan feelings. He won't fool anyone that is on top of things by trying to belittle a senior MP like Michael Howard.

We can also dismiss the notion that all of Michael Martin's critics are snobs. He has demonstrably failed to perform adequately - and that has precisely nothing to do with being Glaswegian.

Tom Greeves


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