The speaker of the House of Commons, Michael Martin, should resign immediately
The speaker of the House of Commons is a position which has been in existence since 1377 when Sir Thomas Hungerford was appointed the first speaker of the house. Loyalty to the speaker is traditionally a 'hallowed commons tradition' and there is no precedent of a speaker being removed against their will in modern times. However the current speaker Michael Martin is facing unprecedented calls for him to resign by MP's from all across the party spectrum. This is due to his handling of the expenses scandal. The speaker is responsible for maintaining not only the privileges of parliament but it's dignity also, and as the symbolic leader and highest authority in the house, the MP for Glasgow North East should take responsibility for his fellow MP's excesses.
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No longer able to defend interest of parliament.
The speakers failure to apologise for the expenses scandal, added to the fact that he strongly rebuked back bench MP's for querying his decision to call in the police to investigate the expenses leak has done nothing but add to the growing sense of public opinion that MPs are out of touch with the general population and are absorbed with their own self interest. One of the MP's he rebuked is the Lib Dem Norman Baker, who has commented that he "appeared to be defending vested interests rather than leading us out of this mess"[[http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/8048292.stm]] which is why he should have to stand down.
The fact that MP's are openly criticising him is highly significant
As stated in the preamble, although MP's may have privately disagreed with the conduct of the speaker, it has been a long standing and well upheld tradition that the speaker is not publicly criticised. This extends to the convention that the three main parties do not oppose the speaker in his constituency at a general election. The fact that MP's, including the Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and the former shadow home secretary David Davies are openly criticising him, while there has also been a cross party motion tabled petitioning for his resignation. Gordon Brown himself is now supporting the role of the speaker rather than Martin himself. A statement from No. 10 read 'the prime minister should support the the individual elected to be speaker of the house' whereas previously he has stated that Martin was 'doing a good job'. The fact that criticism is coming from all parties, and is increasingly coming from more senior MPs further emphasises the growing sense of disgruntlement with the speakers performance.
The motion that is being tabled will have very little practical effect. It cannot be put to a vote, merely debated in government time, and if he so wished, the speaker can choose to ignore the motion entirely. Also the motion has only been signed by up to 15 MP's, which since the house of commons has over 600 members, it can hardly be claimed that it is representative of the general view of MPs that the speaker needs to resign, as has been claimed by the motions author Douglas Carswell.
Is himself guilty of abusing the expenses system
The highest authority in the house of commons cannot credibly be seen to sort out MP expenses when he has been as guilty as anybody of acting outwith 'the spirit of the rules.' In the past year it has come to light that he has used £4,280 of public money on taxi fares for his wife to go shopping, £17, 166 for his house in Scotland when the mortgage had already been paid off, and used air miles that he earned on official business to pay for family members to fly business class from Scotland to London over the new year period. [[Top aide Mike Granatt quits over speaker Michael Martins expenses, Jonathan Oliver, The Times Online, 24th Feb 2008, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article3423611.ece%5D%5D The commons needs a new speaker to act as a clean break from the past to oversee radical new reforms that regulate members conduct.
The current speaker is not responsible for the creation of the existing expenses rules he just inherited them.
This is intended as a No POINT! HE SHOULD NOT RESIGN!
How can the current speaker be held responsible for the existing failing expenses system which has been in use for probably years? What happened to all the previous speakers controlling the existing system? Where they asked to leave? No! Why? Because back then the Guardian did not highlight the relevations of expenses abuses. You have to remember that abuse of expenses has probably been taking place for a decade. Only now does it become an issue, because of a downturn.
The current speaker cannot be blamed for a historical problem.
No precedent to force the speaker to resign
Since 1560 there has never been a speaker that has been forced to relinquish his/her duties. It has generally been seen as a job for life and the incumbent has always been able to choose their time of departure. The role of the speaker is an impartial one and should be respected as such. He should not be victim to the short term political manoeuvring that often happens in these moments of political turmoil and recrimination.
Retains the support of the Prime Minister and leader of the opposition
Although the speaker is receiving unprecedented levels of criticism, the two people who would have most sway, Gordon Brown and David Cameron, have so far declined to call for his resignation. 10 Downing street has stated that "the prime minister should support the individual elected to be speaker by the house" and David Cameron has stated that "it is a very important constitutional principle that the Opposition supports the Speaker's office and the role of the Speaker". It is likely the speaker will manage to survive until the next election if he can retain the support of the leaders of the two main parties.
Cannot be turned into a scapegoat
With the MP's expenses row refusing to go away, there is obviously going to be an attempt to present a scapegoat to the public as a way of showing that MP's are serious about reforming parliament. There is a danger that many are using their already embedded frustrations with the speakers performance as an excuse to get rid of Martin rather than an attempt to put in process the reforms that are necessary to restore public confidence. The speaker must only be forced to resign if they believe this is the only way to implement reform, not just a political point scoring victory for his enemies.
The current speaker is not responsible for the creation of the existing expenses rules.
the current speaker is not responsible for expenses historical abuse. Please see erroneous yes argument which should have been in the NO column!
Aren't the Commons' Accountants really to blame?
It seems absurd that so many MP's are in trouble for 'blagging' more than their fair share of Expenses. And that they should all be claiming for Mortgages and sundry expenses such as Taxis and Video rentals.
Is there not an odour of corruption in the air? The Commons' Accountants probably advised Mr. Martin what he could and what he could not claim for under Expenses. I'm sure many people would like to know exactly who the Accountants are for the Commons ... and how much influence they have within the corridors of Parliament.
What do you think?