Speaker demands government answer all written questions before recess

July 3, 2009 at 12:53 pm Leave a comment


The Speaker, John Bercow, has proposed a major change to the way his deputies are selected.

The three Deputy Speakers are at present appointed; the Speaker wants them elected.

In a statement to MPs he said he would be writing to “all Ministers in this House” to ask them to ensure that the backlog of written questions that remain unanswered is cleared before the recess.

The Speaker said the current Deputy Speakers are “outstanding, but my election was an indication that the House was ready to accept change.”

“In a modern democracy that puts Parliament first, I am convinced that the choice of such office holders should be determined not by consultation but by the process of election,” he said.

“By convention, and as supported by the Procedure Committee in 2002, the combination of the Speaker and three Deputy Speakers should be drawn equally from the Government and Opposition Benches.

“A change now is therefore appropriate. Accordingly, I am proposing that a ballot or ballots should be conducted in the House to choose one Deputy Speaker from the Opposition side and two from the Government side of the House.

“I have consulted the usual channels and I hope to bring that about shortly after the House returns in October.”

Mr Speaker said that the speed of answering written parliamentary questions “is a matter of considerable concern to the House.”

“I will today be writing to all Ministers in this House to ask them to ensure that the backlog of written questions that remain unanswered is cleared before the recess,” he said.

“I am also setting in hand work on a system of tracking the timeliness of answers so that information will be available to Ministers, Members and those outside this place whom we serve on which questions remain unanswered and the delay in each case.

“I will have more to say to the House on this matter after the recess.”

The House rises on July 21st.


Entry filed under: Commons, Procedure. Tags: , , , , , , .

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