Margaret Beckett joins crowded race for Speaker

June 11, 2009 at 8:54 am Leave a comment

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Veteran Labour MP Margaret Beckett has revealed she is a candidate to succeed Michael Martin as Speaker of the House of Commons.

Ms Beckett, a government minister under Harold Wilson, James Callaghan, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, stood down as Housing Minister in last week’s reshuffle.

MPs will elect a new Speaker on June 22nd.

Tory MP Ann Widdecombe has also declared she is a candidate for the job, despite the fact she is standing down from Parliament at the next election.

“My own retirement plans are very advanced and it’s quite true that until Michael Martin resigned, this idea had just never entered my head,” she told the BBC.

“And that’s why it’s taken me a while to make up my mind that I would put my hat in the ring, because I wasn’t entirely convinced that an interim was necessarily the right thing to do.

“But as I’ve talked to people, and people have responded positively, I’ve decided to do it.”

Yesterday Labour MP and former minister Parmjit Dhanda said he was a candidate for Speaker and claimed that recent Euro election wins by the British National Party had inspired him to throw his hat in the ring.

Sir Michael Lord, another candidate, said: “I have got strong support, and I am very serious about the contest.”

Declared candidates include Alan Beith and John Bercow and others known to be interested include Sir George Young, Frank Field, Sir Alan Haselhurst, Sir Patrick Cormack and Richard Shepherd.

Other potential Speakers include former Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell, Chris Mullin, Tony Wright and Sylvia Heal.

The method that will be used to elect Mr Martin’s successor is new.

It was created after the 2000 election, when the conflicting claims of more than a dozen candidates led to confusion.

The Exhaustive Ballot system will allow MPs to vote in secret for the first time.

On June 23rd, the day after Mr Martin leaves office, nominations will be handed to Commons authorities between 9:30am and 10:30am.

To be eligible, nominated MPs must have the backing of 12 MPs, three of whom must be from a different political party.

At 2:30pm, the candidates will address the Commons, then the voting begins.

If one candidate gains 50% or more of the votes in the secret ballot, they are the winner.

Otherwise the candidate with the least votes is eliminated and MPs will continue to vote until an outright winner is decided.

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