Speaker John Bercow should be STRIPPED of powers to run the House of Commons, says Cabinet minister Andrea Leadsom
- Leader of the House Andrea Leadsom urged shake up in Commons governance
- Said the bullying scandal that rocked Westminster showed ‘accountability’ issue
- Called for Speaker to be stripped of responsibility for administering the House
Speaker John Bercow should be stripped of powers to run the House of Commons, a Cabinet minister has urged.
Leader of the House Andrea Leadsom said the recent bullying scandal that rocked Westminster showed there is a need for more ‘accountability’.
She said the Speaker’s role should be limited to overseeing the chamber rather than heading the administration.
The intervention, in a speech last week, comes amid rising tensions between ministers and Mr Bercow.
The Speaker was embroiled in controversy when he remained as chair of the Commons Commission despite personally facing bullying allegations – which he denies.
Many Tories have long been pushing for the Speaker to stand aside, but he has extended his tenure in the key job byond the nine years he originally set out in order to see through the Brexit process.
Andrea Leadsom said Speaker John Bercow’s (pictured) role should be limited to overseeing the chamber rather than heading the administration
Labour are keen for him to stay as they believe he will select difficult amendments for the government.
Tomorrow Mr Bercow is due to rule on whether there is a case for ministers answer over whether they have committed contempt of Parliament by refusing to publish full legal advice on the PM’s deal with Brussels.
Delivering the Roscoe Lecture on Thursday night, Mrs Leadsom said the Commons should have ‘a chairman who can ultimately combine the authority and the accountability that should be demonstrated in the governance of the seat of our democracy’.
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‘When the public expressed outrage over the President’s Club scandal, the chairman resigned and the charity shut down. But where does the buck stop in our Parliament, in our political world, in our democracy,’ she said.
‘In the 18 months I have been in this job, it has become apparent to me that – when it comes to the way the House itself runs – there are some serious questions to be answered.’
Mrs Leadsom, who has clashed repeatedly with Mr Bercow, went on: ‘Currently, statute requires that the chair of the House of Commons Commission is the Speaker of the House.
‘Yet, the Speaker of the House is there to serve the Chamber first and foremost, and to be a figurehead for the broader organisation.
Mrs Leadsom said the recent bullying scandal that rocked Westminster showed there is a need for more ‘accountability’
‘The role of the Speaker is to hold one of the highest offices in the land, presiding over debates, managing the chamber and ensuring political impartiality.
‘It is a stretch to imagine that the highest office within the seat of our democracy should also be responsible for determining the opening hours of our cafeterias.’
Mrs Leadsom said staff were still not confident that the systems were in place to protect them.
‘The House of Commons Commission provides the board-level oversight of everything from the maintenance of an ancient building to staff pay, and even whether the WiFi is working,’ she said.
‘My grave concern is that there is a massive disconnect between authority and accountability.’
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