LETTER FROM THE RIGHT HONOURABLE SIR GEORGE
YOUNG MP TO THE CLERK OF THE COMMITTEE
Further to the Chairman of the Procedure Committee's
letter dated 9 November, the following are my views on the issue
of electing the Speaker.
I am against "hustings" or written
manifestos. I am concerned that this could lead to an "auction"
for the Speakership and, in particular, to candidates for the
Speakership being driven to take positions on matters which are
for decision by the whole of the House. I believe there was some
evidence of this in the recent contest. I believe that the qualities
required by the Speakerintegrity, independence and experienceare
difficult to communicate by way of a manifesto, and that the House
probably has the relevant information from its perception of candidates
over recent years.
I believe the present voting procedure is unsatisfactory,
as it places undue weight on the order of selection. It is perfectly
possible for three candidates to be acceptable to the House. Under
the present procedures, the first one to be voted on would become
Speaker, although either of the later two could secure a bigger
majority. The present procedure also poses problems for those
whose first preferred candidate is low down, but whose second
preferred candidate is high up, with an unacceptable candidate
to them in between. It poses a difficult question as to whether
or not they should support their second preferred candidate.
I would therefore prefer a system that narrowed
the choice down to two or three candidates, by a preliminary ballot.
I think a preliminary ballot could well be by secret ballot, though
I think the final one should take place as it takes place at the
momentwith candidates being proposed, seconded and indicating
acceptance, followed by a traditional vote.
The recent contest posed difficulties for all
candidates as the House was in recess for most of the time. If
possible, I think this should be avoided. I also take the view
that three months is too long a period for the contest.
14 November 2000