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Speaker’s Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:31 pm on 21st October 2019.

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Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee 3:31 pm, 21st October 2019

The short answer is yes. I sought colleagues to frame my statement in factual terms, and it was—whether people agree with it or not—closely argued. I did not go in for adjectival excess on this occasion. It is, however, part of the thinking of the Chair that the House should not be continually bombarded with a requirement to consider the same matter over and over and over again. There are people who are concerned about such a prospect—that is, about the possibility of being browbeaten, harassed or intimidated. In the context of the statement I made to the House on 18 March, I was very aware of commentary in the public square along the lines of, “Well, we’ll bring it back—26 times if necessary—until we get the outcome.” That was a factor in my judgment that a ruling from the Chair needed to be given.

Absence of Speaker intervention on this same convention since 1920 or thereabouts is attributable, colleagues, not to the discontinuation of the convention, but rather to general compliance with it, and that is for the protection of the House. We also do not want contradictory and conflicting judgments to be reached in very short order, and what could be shorter order than the next sitting day after the last judgment was made? It may not appeal to everybody, but that is the rationale for the perfectly reasonable judgment that I have made.