Carswell lays down Speaker gauntlet

HARWICH MP Douglas Carswell is to take on the Speaker of the House of Commons next week by tabling a cross-party motion of no confidence in Michael Martin,

Graham Dines

HARWICH MP Douglas Carswell is to take on the Speaker of the House of Commons next week by tabling a cross-party motion of no confidence in Michael Martin,

Pressure on Mr Martin's position is mounting after he refused to apologise for personal rebukes to MPs who questioned his handling of the Westminster expenses controversy.

It is notoriously difficult for MPs to oust a sitting Speaker because of the power he has in the chamber - and by tradition, a former Speaker is not allowed to remain an MP once he or she leaves office.


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“I continue to pick up support for the motion. I can confirm that it will definitely be tabled with backing from both sides of the Commons,” Mr Carswell said today. “It's the first time anything like this has been done in 300 years.”

Among at least six MPs from all three main parties who have given their support is Labour backbencher Paul Flynn (Newport West). “I believe we speak on behalf of two-thirds of MPs on this.

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“I hope the Speaker will get the message. We have got to get the message across that we have recognised the understandable outrage of the public, the revulsion.”

He said Speaker Martin had failed properly to lead reforms. “He is an affable and amiable human being and a decent man but I think this is the right time to go. We have to rebuild our reputation, which is shattered. That could be done far better under a new Speaker.”

Speaker Martin's conduct was openly questioned in the Commons chamber on Tuesday when he was asked to apologise for comments he made to ex-minister Kate Hoey on Monday. The Vauxhall Labour MP had suggested that calling in the police to investigate leaks about MPs' expenses was a waste of time.

Mr Martin rounded on her, pointing to her “public utterances and your pearls of wisdom on Sky News.” He then rebuked Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker, who has also championed expenses reform, and former Cabinet minister Patricia Hewitt.

Labour MP David Winnick, who challenged Mr Martin to apologise for making personal comments, was told he could have raised it the day before if he had been present.

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