Speaker Resigns - "Wrong head, wrong block"! (May 19th 2009)
North Thanetís MP, Roger Gale, has today described the resignation of Commons Speaker Michael Martin as "the wrong head on the wrong block".
Speaking at the House after the Speakerís brief statement following prayers at 2.30 the veteran Tory backbencher said:
It is hard not to conclude that the Speaker has carried the can for the failure of the House of Commons to put its own house in order.
It is true that as the Senior Member of the House Speaker Martin has borne a huge burden of responsibility and it is true that some of his statements and actions have left him open to personal challenge and abuse but the fact is that on 3rd July 2008, when the Commons voted on Membersí salaries and expenses, the House had the opportunity to take decisive remedial action and, nearly a year ago, chose not to do so.
That failure is not the fault of the Speaker but of each and every one of us who has been elected as a Member of Parliament and we all have to take responsibility for the present situation.
It would, I think, have been more desirable for the Speaker, working with the Leaders of all political parties, to have put in place an interim agreement pending the findings of the review being conducted by Sir Christopher Kelly. Those investigations should have been broadened to include the whole range of terms and conditions and the results should have been binding, like them or not, upon Parliament.
What is now needed is the dissolution of parliament in the immediate future, a general election - at which all sitting Members will be required to put their records to the electorate - and the selection, by a new parliament, of the next Speaker. Speaker Martinís announcement will not solve what is a deep-seated and longstanding House of Commons malaise."
Commenting on his personal relationship with the Speaker, Roger Gale said:
"Speaker Martin has been the subject of personal abuse and vilification by that section of the tabloid press who from the beginning of his tenure have derided him as "Gorbals Mick". I have found him, in my dealings with him, to be kind, courteous and understanding - even when I have, on occasions, crossed swords with him in the Chamber. He has achieved a considerable amount in the course of his career and I am saddened that his Speakership should be making history by ending in this manner. I trust that this decision will allow Mr. Speaker and his wife to enjoy a period of tranquillity away from the eye of the storm".