Coffee House

Revealed: the cross-party motion to stop Bercow in his tracks over clerk appointment

26 August 2014

With just a few days before the House of Commons returns for the autumn term, the revolt against John Bercow’s plan to appoint Carol Mills as Clerk of the House is growing. Coffee House has seen a motion that a cross-party group of MPs plan to table to stop the Speaker in his tracks.

The motion, which I understand has the support of more than 50 MPs from all three main parties, including PPSs, does not attempt to block the appointment, but simply calls for a pre-appointment hearing and report (which could lead to a recommendation that Mills not be appointed). It says:

‘That this House believes that the recommendation of Ms Carol Mills to be Clerk of this House should be subject to, and contingent upon, a pre-appointment hearing and report by a select committee.’

The motion is likely to be tabled by Tory MP Jesse Norman, one of the leaders of the revolt against House of Lords reform. But MPs from across the spectrum are irritated by this appointment by the Speaker, and what seems to unite them is less a dislike for Bercow (although that is not unknown) and more a profound belief in the importance and power of the House of Commons. That was one of the reasons Norman and colleagues resisted reform of the Upper Chamber, because they feared it would undermine the primacy of the Commons. That the Speaker, who styles himself as the champion of Parliament who has empowered the Commons refuses to give MPs a voice on the appointment of the clerk rouses the same instinct in many MPs, whether or not they backed the Lords reform.

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Show comments
  • The Laughing Cavalier

    Dave Doolittle will cave in eventually and let the Squeaker have his way.

  • Mark B

    They squabble over the appointment of a mere functionary, because they believe in;

    . . . a profound belief in the importance and power of the House of Commons.

    Yet the fact that our laws are made elsewhere, and therefore totally undermines the HoC and the HoL and our Parliamentary System (I refuse to call it democracy), seems to rather have passed these idiots by.

    What astoundingly ignorant little people.

  • Hototrot

    Are any of the members of the panel over 5′ 6″. Of course, they all are, apart from………

    • High Sheriff

      And indeed that is the key.
      The ultimate small man.
      With a grudge.

  • swatnan

    Hang on. I always thought that the Speaker was the ‘servant of the House’. What were those famous words of Speaker Pym: I have neither eyes nor ears etc etc… than what the House directs me etc..

    • Colonel Mustard

      So old hat. Public and parliamentary “servants” are now fully signed up to “leading beyond (their) authority”. Bercow excels at that.

  • John_Page

    Who was on the panel that chose her? Do we know?

    • Colonel Mustard

      Roll your eyes and keep rolling them. The panel was chaired by Bercow and consisted of Andrew Lansley, the former commons leader, Angela Eagle, the shadow commons leader, Margaret Hodge, the public accounts committee chair, Lib Dem MP John Thurso and Dame Julie Mellor, the parliamentary and health service ombudsman.

      Bercow is at best a Red Tory if not a Long Marcher, Lansley is one of the most useless lumps in Parliament to be called Conservative. Eagle and Hodge are Labour – enough said. Thurso a Lib Dem – enough said and Dame Julie a “usual suspect” from the Quangocracy with Islington Council GLC, Racial Equality and Equal Opportunities in her background.

      • M. Wenzl

        By that logic, only a panel made up of Tory backbenchers would have met with your approval?

        • Colonel Mustard

          By what logic?

          What are “archetypal Tory backbenchers”? I doubt they exist beyond your potential definition of them.

          • M. Wenzl

            My “potential definition” isn’t what’s important here. The question is; on the basis of “enough [being] said” for the Labour and Lib Dem appointees, and in light of your judgement with respect to the Conservative appointees on the panel, who would your ideal appointees be? “Archetypal Tory backbenchers” (i.e. low tax, low overall spending ((barring that which concerns low and order)), Eurosceptic) would be the only logical ideal choice based on what seems to be your implicit preference, insofar that you don’t seem to be satisfied with anyone to the left of Fox.

            • Colonel Mustard

              “My “potential definition” isn’t what’s important here.”

              Yes it is. Because you used the term “archetypal Tory backbenchers” not I. You just came along wanting to bash a rightie and to start one of your existential arguments where you can show off your superiority.

              I’m not satisfied with anyone to the left of Fox? I’m not satisfied with 99.9% of the clowns inhabiting Westminster, whether they are left, right or centre. My ideal appointees were probably all dead by 1997 or getting there. The last truly adult generation before we descended into infantile puerility and the rise of mediocracy, idiocracy and quangocracy, the full flowering of the lunatics from 1968.

              • M. Wenzl

                True enough, I suppose. Or at least, I was hoping to understand the ostensible prejudices of a vocal member of this website’s comments page. Is there much point in engaging with political debate though if you believe that pretty much everyone who was useful had died – or had pretty much died – by 1997? Although most people laugh about our current batch of politicians, it’s a leap of faith to assume that the majority would agree on you that New Labour effectively killed off the last of the competent and ‘sane’. Labour still won two elections after 1997, while the Tories floundered as they attempted to lean to the right. Unless the electorate are suffering from a (Marxist!) case of false consciousness, that would surely put you in a minority?

                • Colonel Mustard

                  Why on earth should a superior being like you bother to try to understand my prejudices, ostensible or otherwise?

                  I am not “engaging in political debate”. I am merely expressing my opinion. Shouting into the wind of infectious stupidity in an act of lone defiance.

                  I’m sure that not all the competent and ‘sane’ were killed off by New Labour, my hyperbole notwithstanding, but the survivors are doing a remarkably good job of keeping very quiet and a very bad job of trying to stop the madness that is modern Britain.

      • Mark B

        Where all doomed !

      • MirthaTidville

        I should be amazed that anyone from Labour dare utter a word against this half wit, seeing as they were responsible for his appointment in the first place. However, seeing the culpability of said rabble I sadly am not.

  • Peter Stroud

    I sincerely hope that fifty is just the number of names on the motion. Hopefully it will find cross party support from the majority of MPs, when debated.

    • Blindsideflanker

      When you hope that there are more MP’s willing to fight for something important, you usually find they just can’t be bothered to turn out.

      So far just 7% of them can be bothered.

  • Earlshill

    I see. Once No10 has indicated that it will delay sending Bercow’s recommendation to the Queen, our brave MPs decide that its time to submit a motion. Better late than never……

  • Colonel Mustard

    Only 50? So much for the “guardians” of our constitution. Bercow is a one man wrecking ball and constitutional maverick pursuing his vandalism without a mandate and whose record of excess is marked most by the lack of parliamentary opposition to it.

    • High Sheriff

      I remember Sally Illman then a reasonable Conservative girl.
      As she drifted left her husband became strange.
      Enough said.

      • Portendorfer

        Are you implying that he is replacing the functions of Sally (all) by Carol?
        You wicked mischievous man.

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