Salter speaks; a debate on chairs

Martin Salter (Reading West, Labour)
I made my maiden speech in this House on the subject of parliamentary reform and the overbearing power of the Whips. I was told by my Whip a day later that my career was over, and he was, of course, entirely right.
I want to touch briefly upon stuff from the Procedure Committee. Let us be honest, Mr. Speaker: you are the only holder of the speakership who has been elected by secret ballot, so it is not true to suggest that the Speaker of this House is not elected by secret ballot. What there is an open ballot on, however, is the mechanism to deselect the Speaker. That can be done by a single Member calling, “Object”, as one of the first items of business when the new Parliament reassembles. If Members wish to deselect the Speaker, they should have the courage to go through that Division Lobby and put their name on the record. That is the kernel of that debate, and I am glad we will not be wasting any more time on it.
Members who support parliamentary reform should be deeply suspicious of any collusion, even in a free vote, between the two Front Benches, and we have such collusion today in that the Leader of the House, for whom I have great respect, will be supporting amendment (b) to motion 7, which was tabled by the shadow Leader of the House, for whom I also have great respect. Therefore, the Leader of the House will be supporting an Opposition amendment to her own motion, which will ensure that the amendment tabled by my hon. Friend Dr. Wright, who is Chair of the Reform of the House of Commons Committee, will fall. As has been amply explained by Dr. Harris and my hon. Friend who chairs the Committee-of which I am proud to be a member-we will have a flimsier Back-Bench committee as a result.
I do not believe that my constituents, or those of any other Member, are focused on the fine detail of this debate, but I think they know that this of all Parliaments has to demonstrate a capacity to reform. It has to demonstrate a capacity to get the reform agenda back on track-an agenda that, to be frank, stalled when this House tragically lost the services of Robin Cook. That is important not just for the reputation of this House and our politics, but for our ability to legislate effectively, because we all know that good laws require good scrutiny, and good scrutiny needs a House of Commons that is amply able to hold the Executive to account and to pass legislation of which we can be proud, rather than, as at the moment, legislation we have to revisit, sometimes annually.
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Published in: on March 5, 2010 at 2:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

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