BACKGROUND AND WAY FORWARD
1. There is modern precedent for establishing
statutory changes to the roles and responsibilities of the Speaker.
2. The role of the Speaker has historically
been defined by the character of the incumbent, the mood and political
will of Parliament and, equally importantly, the wider political
The need for Change?
3. In Britain today the Legislature is increasingly
subservient to the legislative intentions of the Executive.
4. Wider reform of the role of Speaker is
almost certainly necessary.
End Game: A Modern Speaker
5. The object of any reforms should be to
ensure that the Speaker is best able to fulfil those responsibilities
vital to a healthy, vibrant and relevant Parliament.
6. Reforms should seek to promote the Speaker
as a clear and authoritative voice in the Commons' dealings, as
part of the legislature, with the Executive.
7. The Modernisation Committee should
adopt reform of the role of the Speaker as an investigation of
the highest priority.
8. The Select Committee on Procedure
should be invited to undertake a joint investigation with
the Modernisation Committee of the single issue of the election
of the Speaker, the conclusions of that investigation to pay careful
attention to the wider issues relating to the Speaker's role and
Election of Speaker
9. As the most recent and controversial
manifestation of the weaknesses of Parliament's procedures, the
manner in which the Speaker is elected is an urgent matter for
inquiry. It is no reflection on the calibre of the successful
candidate to report widespread anxiety about the election process.
10. The clear recommendation of the Liberal
Democrats is that the Speaker should be elected by the process
of Alternative Vote.
11. It would be pertinent, as part of any
inquiry into the role of the Speaker, to review the constitutional,
legislative and symbolic implications of alternative arrangements
that make clear that the Speaker is elected, and appointed, by
the House of Commons to be its voice in its dealings with the
Representing the Interests of Members of Parliament(Government
12. Much of the recent concern over the
influence of the Executive on the Legislature is related to the
ability of the Government to set the timetable for its own Business.
13. A Business Committee chaired by the
Speaker, consisting of the Leader of the House and his or her
Shadows from the two largest opposition parties, as well as other
non-payroll MPs, and tasked with timetabling the Government's
legislative programme, would establish a considerable limit on
the power of the Executive to dictate the Business of the House.
Representing the Interests of Members of Parliament(Modernisation)
14. The Speaker should have a clearly defined
role in reviewing the practices of the House and recommending
reform to both the Procedure and Modernisation Committees.
15. It should be possible for the Speaker
to constitute, from time to time, an elected Advisory Committee
of MPs to review the effectiveness of reforms.
Representing the Interests of Members of Parliament
(Administration of the House)
16. The Chair of the House of Commons Commission
should be elected directly by the Commons, on a free vote, with
the Speaker assuming an advisory role.
17. Renewing the role of the Speaker in
the manner outlined above way is fundamentally consistent with
the Liberal Democrat analysis that there is a need for a greater
separation of powers within the British Constitution.
18. A Speaker with renewed and obvious authority
might serve to embolden backbench members of the majority party
to support, on occasion, the interest of the Commons against the
interest of the Executive.
19. To give the Legislature the capability
of confronting the Executive when serious differences of interest
or opinion arise can only help make the House of Commons more
relevant to those it is elected to serve: the public.