Party leaders and MPs pay tribute to the Speaker at PMQs

May 20, 2009 at 5:58 pm 2 comments


The Prime Minister led tributes to Speaker Michael Martin in the House of Commons this afternoon.

“Mr Speaker, there will be a further opportunity to acknowledge your contribution and achievements in this House, but let me say briefly on behalf of all Members that your record of service to this House and this country has been outstanding over 30 years, and you have shown unfailing personal kindness to all Members on all sides of the House,” Gordon Brown said at the beginning of Prime Minister’s Questions.

Yesterday Mr Martin announced he is to step down after more than eight years as Speaker. His replacement will be elected in a secret ballot of MPs on June 22nd.

Conservative leader David Cameron paid a personal tribute.

“I will never forget the kindness that you showed me and the advice that you gave me when I was a new backbencher in 2001,” he said.

“I know that everyone wants to thank you for the public service that you have given to the House and the country.”

Nick Clegg, the Leader of the Liberal Democrats, had called for Mr Martin to stand down. He was loudly heckled by MPs on the Labour and Conservative benches as he paid his tribute.

“Mr Speaker, despite our differences in recent days, I would like to thank you for the immensely dignified way in which you made your statement yesterday,” he said.

“We can now move forward to reform this place from top to toe.”

MPs from all sides were amused when the Speaker seemed to move on after Mr Clegg’s first question to the Prime Minister – as leader of the third party he is entitled to two.

“I thought that there were two questions in the first one—but there we are,” Mr Martin said.

“Touché, Mr. Speaker,” Mr Clegg responded.

Conservative MP Sir Nicholas Winterton said that “as a member of your panel of Chairmen … you have been a kind and caring Speaker, and that that will never be forgotten.”

Dr Alasdair McDonnell, SDLP MP for Belfast South, paid tribute to his “great kindness, generosity and understanding, which you showed me when I entered this House four years ago.”

Minutes later, before revealing details of the new Parliamentary Standards Authority, Leader of the House of Commons Harriet Harman, said:

“May I strongly identify myself with the comments of tribute to you, Mr Speaker, that the Prime Minister has led today?

“I know that hon. Members on both sides of the House will want to have the opportunity to pay tribute to you.

“As Leader of the House, I shall make sure that an occasion is arranged before you leave the Chair so that we can all pay tribute to your generous and courteous chairing of this House of Commons.”


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2 Comments Add your own

  • […] agreements bewteen Brown, Cameron & Clegg.  How imminent death focuses the mind. And today in Parliament Nick Clegg was all sweetness and light towards the outgoing Speaker in the mode – “Sorry I had to […]

  • 2. Tio  |  May 21, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    Michael Martin is the first major victim of the expenses scandal because he was, in part, overseeing, and, in part, benefiting from it.

    MPs are looking for a scapegoat for their own gluttony, which shows how worried they are.

    The Westminster consensus – that profit is good – has left them feathering their nests while lecturing the rest of us on tightening our belts.

    The crisis at the heart of the political system runs deep because it is symbolic of the lack of legitimacy of the “mother of parliaments”.

    This is not just about the stench of corruption as politicians have handed more and more control over to business.

    It is shining a light on the reality of democracy in our system.

    Real democracy is about having control over our lives and a real say about what happens in society.

    Even in its ideal form, parliamentary democracy is a pale shadow of that.

    The perks and the second homes are simply the tips the loyal politicians take as part of running the system – not in the interests of all as they claim, but in the interests of the rich.

    Standing out against the sewer of sleaze running through parliament means not simply dumping one or two crooks but fighting for real democracy.


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