Posts Tagged ‘John Bercow’

The headlines missed the real Bercow story. He’s de facto implementing last week’s Benn amendment: the Commons now has the lead in deciding what get’s voted on for Brexit

19/03/2019, 10:35:15 PM

by Atul Hatwal

The headlines from John Bercow’s intervention yesterday might have been about his refusal to countenance another Meaningful Vote on an unchanged deal, but the real story, was elsewhere. Two words, one number: Standing Order 24.

In his response to a question from Labour MP Helen Goodman, the Speaker virtually set out how he would support the Commons in seizing control of the parliamentary agenda, allowing binding votes on different Brexit options such as a referendum or Norway+.

Here’s the key exchange from Hansard.

Helen Goodman (Bishop Auckland) (Lab)

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. You are obviously right that the House does not wish to vote on the same proposition over and again. Equally, I am sure that you will be aware of the fact that some hon. Members were interested in meaningful votes because at that time, they would be able to vote on amendments on matters that we have not yet considered. If the Government are unable to make any changes to their proposition, I seek your guidance on how we might secure opportunities for voting on those alternative propositions. I heard you talk about urgent questions, but of course, there is no vote on an urgent question or a statement, and a Standing Order No. 24 motion is in neutral terms. The Government have not been very generous recently in offering Opposition day debates either, so I seek your advice on how hon. Members might proceed.

Mr Speaker

Obviously, it would be helpful to the Opposition if Opposition days were supplied. That has not happened recently and I have no way of knowing whether the Leader of the House has it in mind to provide for Opposition days. I think that colleagues would think that it was a democratic and seemly thing to do to ensure that the principal Opposition party had the requisite allocation of days. So far as other business is concerned, the hon. Lady should look closely at the Standing Order No. 24 procedure. What she says about it is true, but I think that she should reflect upon the opportunities that the Standing Order No. 24 procedure presents, because the opportunities are fuller than has traditionally been acknowledged or taken advantage of by Members of the House of Commons.

The Speaker bends over backwards to needle Andrea Leadsom, the Leader of the House and highlight Standing Order (SO) 24. This is the SO that enables emergency debates to be requested by MPs.

Traditionally, emergency debates are phrased neutrally. They always use the formulation, “That this House has considered…” This is because the purpose of SO24 is to enable debate, to consider a motion, not direct action following the debate.


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The hacking-gate heroes: four men in search of a scandal

10/09/2010, 05:21:10 PM

The BBC refused to cover the News of the World hacking story till Tom Watson, Chris Byrant and the Guardian gave them no option.

Since then, their coverage has at best been haphazard. Having initially turned their back on it, they’ve subsequently failed to catch up.

None of the newspapers except the Guardian and, to a much lesser extent, the Independent, initially covered the new developments in the story. It’s a scandal so big that the New York Times has published thousands of words on it. But the British papers – including the ‘serious’ ones – nakedly refused, because it’s too close to home. Which the BBC – apparently not seeing this abrogation by the papers as a rupture in the fabric of democracy – didn’t report. (more…)

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Cuts to food and trips: MPs to share the public sector pain

23/06/2010, 10:24:32 AM

The Speaker, John Bercow, last night wrote to MPs pledging extra cuts to House of Commons spending “in the light of increased financial constraints on the public sector”.

He told MPs that “the House of Commons Commission has agreed to cut £12 million from the budget for the House in the current year. This marks the start of a fundamental review of expenditure, which will deliver further savings over the next three years.

The savings to be made this year are 5 per cent more than the Commission originally planned, and will reduce estimated spending for 2010/11 to £219 million. This action follows the Commission’s decision in December 2009, to cut House expenditure by 9% by the end of 2012/13.” (more…)

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