Lindsay Hoyle pledges greater 'transparency' in veiled attack on John Bercow

Posted On: 
29th January 2020

Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle has taken a swipe at John Bercow by pledging to introduce greater "transparency" to the way he makes decisions.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle gave a statement to MPs on his new plans for transparencery from the Speaker's Chair
PA Images

In a surprise move, he said any time he breaks with existing parliamentary conventions, he will publish a statement from the Clerk of the House outlining why he disagrees.

The move will widely be seen as a riposte to his predecessor Mr Bercow, who clashed with his officials behind closed doors while making controversial rulings during the Brexit crisis.

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Sir Lindsay said the new set-up would be based on the way civil servants can request written permission from ministers to overrule the advice of officials.

To cheers from the Tory benches he told the chamber: “The procedure will apply if I take a decision as Speaker which the Clerk of the House considers comprises a substantial breach of the standing orders, or a departure from long-established convention without appropriate authorisation from the House itself.”

That point was taken to be a reference to Mr Bercow, who when ruling that former Attorney General Dominic Grieve could alter a Government procedural motion, argued that if Parliament was always bound by precedent "nothing would change and things do change".

He also rejected calls to publish the guidance he had received from his clerks on whether this should have been allowed, saying that “advice is tendered to me privately”.

But Sir Lindsay said: “The Clerk of the House will be empowered to place a statement of his views in the library, and I will always make the House aware that this has been done.”