SPEAKER WATCH:  Bercow Gets His Weapon

What pervasive influence the Speaker has in the Commons, and how systematically he is extending it.

Is it proper that he chairs a debate on further increasing his own powers?

That sort of consideration is a nicety now, as fastidious as crooking one’s little finger on a teacup.

Andrew Lansley brought the proposal to the House to allow the Speaker to call four Amendments to the Queen’s Speech.

Not a move to restrict Mr Speaker from calling amendments, he said, but to give certainty. Because one reading of Standing Orders (the Speaker’s) suggested he might call unlimited amendments to the Queen’s Speech. So he is giving certainty by restricting Mr Speaker from calling amendments by increasing the number of amendments he can call.

There are times when procedural debate is a snake swallowing its own tail.

Charles Walker, chair of Procedure committee and a senior placeman in the Speaker’s party, brokered this proposal and congratulated “a certain maturity” in the Leader’s office in accepting it. He really must have got knocked about at school.

Angela Eagle described it as “a welcome Government climbdown in the face of defeat.” She welcomed it “with a little snigger”. She recalled the rebel amendment to the Queen’s Speech, signed by130 MPs, and described it as a “humiliating blow to the PM’s authority.”

It is entirely possible to agree. And to see how the extra power will allow the Speaker to organize behind the scenes further “humiliating blows to the PM’s authority”.

And with what relish will he put himself to the task.


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