Examination of Witnesses (Questions 200
TUESDAY 30 JANUARY 2001
DL AND RT
Sir Paul Beresford
200. Just on a slightly different tack, have
you any views on the appointment of Deputy Speakers?
(Lady Boothroyd) I do not think I have any strong
views about it. I have on two occasions had to deal with the election
of Deputy Speakers and I have been quite satisfied as to the way
it has been done. On both occasions I let it be known that it
would not please me and it would not be correct to put particular
names before me because I might find them unacceptable, but it
worked out very well. I have been tremendously satisfied with
all my deputiesthe ones I got in 1992 and the ones that
came to me later. I was consulted at every stage and I am very
happy with those that were put to me. Whether the House was happy
with them or not I do not knowI assume they werebut
we had a perfect team on all occasions.
(Lord Weatherill) I think it works very well. I was
Chairman of Ways and Means and Lady Boothroyd was one of my deputies
at the time. The great advantage of a Speaker having been a Deputy
Speaker or deputy Chairman of Ways and Means is that it is a very
valuable apprenticeship, but it was said to me prior to my being
chosen as Speaker that the House did not really want to perpetuate
the system whereby the Speaker automatically came from the Ways
and Means corridor, and there is also some merit in that. It is
a very good apprenticeship, however, and I entirely agree with
what Lady Boothroyd has said. I do have to say in my case, with
Betty Boothroyd and Harold Walker, if I had studied the Labour
Party for 1000 years I would not have known as much about it as
those two; every Speaker relies very much on the guidance and
wisdom of his deputies.
201. Bearing in mind what Lord Weatherill says
about apprenticeship and what he said earlier about the potential
advantages of having seen somebody in the Chair, although it is
by no means conclusive and good Speakers have come who have not
been in the Chair beforehand, can it be right for the usual channels
to continue to control, subject to the Speaker's own view, the
appointments of Deputy Speakers with a motion that goes down,
sometimes even without noticeit being simply moved without
being on the Order Paper following consultations in the usual
channelsrather than any wider process, given that the usual
channels no longer control the Speakership but do control the
(Lord Weatherill) I suppose in fairness, if you are
going to elect a Speaker, you should elect the Deputy Speakers
but my view is the system has worked extremely well. Apart from
one Deputy Speaker, the member for Dorking some years ago, who
was displaced I do not know of any occasion where the Deputy Speakers
have been questioned or queried. I think, therefore, since it
does work well, I would be inclined to leave it alone.
(Lady Boothroyd) I find the system works well. What
I always liked and what I always took were Deputy Speakers who
had been on the Speaker's Panel of Chairmen because that is the
real apprenticeship. Those are the unsung people on no pay, working
very long hours, doing splendid work in committees and I always
insisted that the deputies should be drawn from that area.
202. Is it undesirable that Deputy Speakers
should be drawn from PPSs?
(Sir Edward Heath) I misunderstood the earlier question
about Deputy Speaker but, from this point of view, I would say
that a good relationship between the Speaker and those who are
responsible for the other occupants of the Chair are absolutely
essential. It is the one element which can save trouble. I cannot
think of anything worse than having one who is in conflict with
the Speaker. It is unimaginable?
203. So what you are saying, Sir Edward, is
that you believe the current system works whereby the deputies,
the Chairman of Ways and Means and the other Deputy Speakers who
are appointed by the leaders of the major parties and the chief
whips of the major parties, should continue?
(Sir Edward Heath) Yes.
204. Subject, of course, to consultation with
(Lady Boothroyd) Of course. The Speaker must be comfortable
working with these people.
205. Is that what you are saying, Sir Edward?
(Sir Edward Heath) Yes. There must be constant good
consultation the whole time otherwise there is bound to be trouble
and life on the floor of the House would become impossible.
206. Can I say to our three witnesses, Lord
Weatherill, Baroness BoothroydI find it difficult to mouth
(Lady Boothroyd) I do too!
207.and Sir Edward Heath, that this has
been, certainly for me and all my colleagues on the Committee,
a most exciting and interesting session, and can I thank you for
coming to give evidence to us, answering all our questions, and
adding to the wealth of experience and knowledge that we have
now in producing our report in due course. Thank you on behalf
of the Committee very much indeed for coming before us this afternoon.
(Sir Edward Heath) Thank you for what you are doing.