December 3rd, 2013

Gallery Guido: Speaker News For Obsessives

Last night, an arcane moment of back bench wrangling may interest Speaker-watchers.

The Speaker, knowing that Parliament is Procedure, campaigned for his candidate Charles Walker to be chair of the Procedure committee. Cynics say this was to ensure Speaker-friendly changes to Standing Orders are proposed and passed.

An example of this came to the floor of the House at 10pm last night. The first manoeuvrings to subjugate the Back Bench Business Committee to the Speaker’s purposes.

This committee has a special significance. It controls some parliamentary time, and control of time in the House is his drug of choice (his precious desire is to chair a House Business Committee and schedule Government business – that is the ultimate narcotic).

But last night, Andrew Lansley’s now-open war with the Speaker recorded a distinct if tiny victory.

Charles Walker’s proposed rule-changes were opposed by Lansley, the Labour front bench and the Back Bench Committee itself.

And Walker discarded his Motion as soon as he stood up. “It is unlikely I will put this to the vote tonight. Perhaps I have shown my hand too early, but . . .”

And as his incredulous Committee urged him to be strong, he explained: “I have been here since 110 o’clock this morning, and I have toured the tea rooms and I have toured the Library and all the other places where Members of Parliament work diligently through the day and I do not feel I have the support to carry the day, so it is better to take the fight to another day than to die on this day. I appreciate that is a slightly over-dramatic statement of the position, but why not, because it is late and I have had far too much coffee?”

He also made an egregious error procedural error, which we needn’t go into here. But for the chair of a Procedure committee to try and withdraw his Motion even though it was in the keeping of the House . . . ! (I can hear your sick gasp.)

Walker has made great play of his mental peculiarity suffering from some compulsive disorder. This looked more like attention deficit, but let that lie.

The larger proposition is this: the Speaker is carefully and quietly laying down the infrastructure for the most active speakership in parliamentary history, to start after the next election in a hung Commons.

His recent suggestion for a Speaker’s Commission (a novelty, unconstrained by existing rules, conventions, and existing solely under his direction) promises much. It is he says, to provide “a blueprint for action” and will find ways to introduce “flexibility about what is debated and how”.

That is – the public will make suggestions through the Speaker’s office and the Speaker will force the Government to make time to pay attention to him and his causes.

What else will he try for?

The Committee of Selection nominates Members for committee work. It controls the timing of scrutiny in Bill committees. It is an unelected committee stocked by Whips. If he can get this committee elected he will be able to run his own candidates and end up controlling not just the Chairs of Bill committees but the composition of the committees, and the timing of the business they undertake.

No small an expansion of Speaker-power.

And somehow, he will have another go at the Back Bench Business Committee. We know that from something his pet Chris Bryant let drop some time ago.

They want somehow to roll the Back bench Business Committee into a House Business Committee.

How this might happen is not clear. It is an enormously difficult task, faced with the hostility of both front benches, and the Standing Orders governing that committee.

But the Speaker’s cunning and determination can’t be overestimated.


  1. 1

    Nothing controls parliamentary time.

  2. 2
    Man from the street says:

    Tom Daley, I always thought he was a sh*t diver.

  3. 3
    Psyche the Dog says:

    Of course Berco is a tiny chap, so it will only be a tiny victory

  4. 4
    a Hairy Lama says:

    Cameron has just spoken the Chinese in Chinese.

    After his problems with the Germans is this wise?

    Does his father in law speak mandarin?

    • 7
    • 9
      P l e b says:

      Has he learnt to lie in Chinese then?

    • 13
      Anne Robinson says:


      You are the weakest link.


    • 20
      Edgware Road Gossip..... says:

      No thats very doubtful…….he has enough problems being understood in english

      as an aristotwat…..

      But Cherie Booth has just ordered a Chinese Takeaway to be delivered

      in person by Wendi’s Chopsticks……& urgently……

      Bliar is continuing his very slow recovery from involuntary castration all

      carried out with with local or general aesthetic sedation…..which has left

      him unable to recall account numbers & passwords for his multitude of

      bank accounts around the world…this condition is also known as the

      W.C.Fields Syndrome…..and may be permanent…..(we hope)

  5. 8
    ʍȫʊʂʂȁ ҞϴџṦṦậ says:

    Cameron usually talks shit.

  6. 10
    David Cameron says:

    Ren McCrusky, Ren McCrusky

  7. 14
    M103 says:

    Boris Johnson fails live ‘IQ test’
    Funniest headline I’ve read this year!

    • 18
      nellgwynne says:

      The man is waste of time, oxygen and valuable human organs… utterly vile

      • 22
        Anonymous says:

        A liar, a charlatan, a vain and pompous bully with a nasty streak concealed by bumptiousness.

        Eddie Mair nailed him perfectly.

        It’s London’s embarrassment that they voted for this clown

        • 38
          David Lamy in chief. says:

          Quite right.
          I am a far better man for this job and being black when the election comes around we will be a very significant part of the Londistan electorate.
          The fact I have an IQ in the 50′s is no deterrent for this powerful post, and will be a knee up for my Comrades.

    • 21
      Vote UKIP - it is your duty says:

      What else would you expect from someone who wanted to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants?

      • 26
        Roma Georgio & his 10K family says:

        Butt out you fascists ……….

        we know where we will be best off, thats why most of our villages are all

        packing up & moving to your multicultural paradise on 1st Jan 2014…….

        We know it makes economic sense BUT when will you ???

  8. 15
    a non says:

    The sooner Bercow, the runt of the political litter is de-selected by his constituency, the better.
    This megalomaniac is well past any useful functionality

    • 37
      50 Calibre says:


    • 39
      Cor Blimey says:

      What is it with small men?
      Sarkozy, Sorrel, the dutchman in charge of M&S, and we now have Bercow making his bid for tainted glory and power.

      • 43
        Matilda says:

        In-built inferiority complexes. I have worked for a few of these types and they each and every one were complete bastards.

  9. 16
    Vote UKIP - it is your duty says:

    The Venezuelans have just achieved a massive socialist success. Their latest power blackouts means that everybody is equally in the dark.

    • 19
      Carry Hole is a porcine homunculus says:

      Earth Hour! Venezuela has gone green.

    • 40
      Chavez's Ghost says:

      It is so looting can now take place for my comrades to get even cheaper goods.
      Up the revolution.
      But where is that not funny Engleesh comedian revolutionary Brand – he should be here in Venezuela?

  10. 23
    LOL says:

    I had tears of laughter watching this

  11. 24
    Harley Street Upper Class Prat says:

    Why suffer from red ED*** ??????

    Use “Horny Goat Weed” to get ride of this embarrassing social(ist) problem…..

    *** ED = Erectile Dysfunction

  12. 29
    PowderBarrell60 says:

    The House of Commons should regain more control over its own business from HMG. Committee chairmanship and membership should be removed from the gift of the Whips. The concentration of the control of the composition of committees and the business of the house under the Speaker as the servant of the House is a logical proposition, so long as the Speaker remains the servant of the house. That said, the servant of the servants of the people does have unfortunately Papal resonance.

  13. 32
    i don't n eed no doctor says:

    How come we are having a whole day of attacking the RBS by the BBC. How come the BBC didn’t dedicate the same amount of time to it’s own £100 million computer system flop.
    The respected worldwide unbiased BBC at work.

    • 33
      i don't n eed no doctor says:

      Forgot to add, how does the license fee payer get compensation from the BBC?

      • 35
        Axe The Telly Tax &Religion &Kill All Eco-loons says:

        Grow a pair and stop paying the telly tax.

        I haven’t paid it for 9 years.

        I still get the odd letter addressed to “The Legal Occupier”, but as i know of no such person i burn them in the fireplace :-)

  14. 36
    50 Calibre says:

    Was Hitler a short-arsed little shit too?

  15. 41
    Bonar Law says:

    No, not “chair” of the Procedure Committee, Simon. You’re still being politically correct. CHAIRMAN of the Procedure Committee.

  16. 44
    Anonymous says:

    So the legislature might have some control over itself rather than being dominated by the executive.

    What horror.

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Why UKIP Should Join a ‘European Union’. | Anna Raccoon
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Guido-hot-button (1) Guido-hot-button (1)

Francis Elliot reports on No. 10 strategy meetings:

“When discussion veers to subjects that Mr Crosby thinks of concern only to the political and journalistic classes, he treats the offender as a pub bore with a tart request to “pass the beer nuts, mate”.”

Alexrod says:

It’s money innit.

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