Isabel Hardman Isabel Hardman

PMQs highlighted the Speaker’s diminishing authority

John Bercow, the self-styled champion of Parliament, is now being scrutinised by MPs via a series of increasingly hostile points of order. The Speaker’s response to today’s barrage of points was so poor that he has put himself in jeopardy. First Simon Burns asked him about a letter to the Prime Minister recommending the appointment of Carol Mills as Clerk of the House. Bercow said the matter was ‘very straightforward’ and gave Burns a small lecture on the importance of a spirit of goodwill and consensus.

He was grumpier after the next point or order, raised by heckler Michael Fabricant:

Fabricant: ‘Mr Speaker! Why were the recruitment consultants, Saxton Bampfylde, prevented from telling the advisory panel which he referred to that the candidate, Carol Mills, was under two investigations by the Senate, and is it not the case that Saxton Bampfylde did not, I repeat did not, did not initially recommend that Carol Mills be considered?'

Speaker: 'Unfortunately, but fairly predictably, the honourable gentleman is wrong. He's wrong on both counts: I set out the position very clearly on Monday afternoon. It was my responsibility and privilege to respond with courtesy and in detail to points of order on that occasion, sadly it was a disadvantage to the House the honourable gentlemen was not present at that time - not during points of order in my recollection but if he was, he chose not to rise to his feet, he's done so now, I've given him an answer, it's very clear. I think that the House will want to proceed with its business.' Then Chris Pincher raised another point of order, referring to a quote in Andrew

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