Select Committee on Procedure Minutes of Evidence

Letter from Mr Paul Tyler CBE, MP, to the Clerk of the Committee

  I am responding to your chairman's letter inviting views on the process by which the House elects its Speaker. I have been asked by my Parliamentary Party to do so, although individual colleagues may also choose to amplify points.

  First, I must emphasise that this response should be read in conjunction with the paper I have previously submitted to the Modernisation Select Committee. I attach a copy. We are convinced that the role of The Speaker—most notably as Chair of the House of Commons Commission—must be reviewed as a matter of urgency, for the reasons given here. It would be illogical, obviously, to decide on a new election procedure in isolation: the nature of the job must inform the method by which it is filled.

  Second, since the events described in your Chairman's letter there have been concerns voiced about the way in which Deputy Speakers "emerge" to occupy the Chair in the Chamber. We hope that your Committee will review these procedures as well.

  Turning to the specific questions posed to us, our answers are as follows:

    (1)  We support a change to a ballot;

    (2)  The ballot should be secret, and by Alternative Vote, to ensure the most effective representation of the majority view in the whole House; such a system makes a "qualifying majority" unnecessary;

    (3)  We have no objection to written manifestos supplementing the speeches from proposer, seconder and candidate, but believe this form of presentation to Members should not be undermined, let alone superseded, by external hustings; and

    (4)  Please note our comments above.

Paul Tyler

Liberal Democrat Chief Whip

and Shadow Leader of the House

20 November 2000

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