David Blackburn

Bercow wants Lords Mandelson and Adonis to be questioned by MPs

Bercow wants Lords Mandelson and Adonis to be questioned by MPs
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Speaker Bercow has suggested that prominent cabinet ministers who sit in the House of Lords should be brought before the backbenchers for scrutiny. The Telegraph’s James Kirkup has the details:

‘Mr Bercow said:

“I find the fact that backbenchers have no means of directly questioning prominent Ministers of the Crown because they happen to sit in the House of Lords to be less than satisfactory,” Mr Bercow said.

“That is even more true at a time when the Cabinet contains the esteemed Lord Mandelson, whose empire is of a scale not seen since the death of Alexander the Great.”

He also highlighted the role of Lord Adonis.

“I suspect that both of these individuals would concede that they should be responsible to backbench MPs,” Mr Bercow said, suggesting that the ministers could agree to appear before MPs sitting in Westminster Hall.’

Although Lord Mandelson’s ministers frequently appear before the Commons, it is unsatisfactory that Mandelson himself doesn’t answer to elected representatives. Government has become less accountable under New Labour – 7 cabinet ministers sit in the Lords – although previous Conservative governments were unaccountable also. Whilst the status quo is not ideal it seems unavoidable, and Bercow’s proposal goes someway to addressing concerns over scrutiny. Also, Bercow’s statement indicates that despite the controversial circumstances of his election, he is not afraid to confront the people that put him there. He was the wrong man for the job, but he should be allowed to get on with it.