Exclusive: Commons Speaker John Bercow attacks ‘sexist, snobbish, yobbish’ PMQs and says he favours radical reform
Donald Macintyre writes political sketches for The Independent, having been Jerusalem correspondent since 2004, covering Israel and the Occupied Territories, as well as travelling for the paper to Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, Libya and Egypt. As Political Editor and then Chief Political Commentator, he previously covered the John Major and early Tony Blair era. He has written for the Daily Express, Sunday Times, Times and Sunday Telegraph, and Sunday Correspondent. He is the author of Mandelson and the Making of New Labour (2000).
Tuesday 18 February 2014
Commons Speaker John Bercow has written to David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg seeking talks on how Prime Ministers’ Questions (PMQs) can be improved in the wake of mounting concern that its boisterous barracking and partisan exchanges are seriously alienating the public.
His private letter to the three main party leaders asks specifically for their comments on a recent Hansard Society report showing widespread public discontent at the weekly half-hour clashes and it seeks to open a public debate on whether PMQs can be reformed.
The report, based on focus-group findings, says that 67 per cent of respondents felt “there is too much party political point scoring instead of answering the question” and only 12 per cent agreed that “PMQs makes me proud of Parliament”.
In an interview with The Independent, Mr Bercow said he is not expecting MPs to behave like “Trappist monks” and he understood that frequently “passions will be aroused” in the Commons. But he added: “There are people who think culturally the atmosphere is very male, very testosterone-fuelled and, in the worst cases, of yobbery and public school twittishness”.
He said he regretted that “some very good female members of Parliament on both sides” are leaving the Commons at the next election, and added that women are generally “less inclined to screech and shout”.
Pointing out that the Prime Minister has said he wants less “Punch and Judy” politics and Mr Miliband has said he wants a “more rational” PMQs, he added: “I don’t think we should be prissy about this, but I am not sure we’re setting a good example to the next generation of voters.”
Asked about the possibility of a full-scale review by a Speaker’s Committee on PMQs, he said: “First I’d like to hear the views of the party leaders. At this stage I’m not making that suggestion.”
The Speaker also complained that the Government has not yet fulfilled the promise in the Coalition Agreement to bring in a government business committee that would allow backbenchers a say in how debates are allocated in government time.
Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift
Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'
Endangered species spotted in a creek in the Qinling mountains
Company says data is only collected under 'temporary' identities that are discarded every 15 minutes
Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets
George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios
Some experiencing postnatal depression don't realise there is a problem. What can be done?
- 1 Jack the Ripper: Scientist who claims to have identified notorious killer has 'made serious DNA error'
- 2 Banksy arrest hoax: Internet duped by fake report claiming street artist's identity has been revealed
- 3 Drink alcohol and eat meat to improve male fertility - but cut down on coffee, studies suggest
- 4 Former East 17 frontman Brian Harvey turns up at Downing Street and 'demands to speak to Prime Minister'
- 5 The inventor of the Facebook 'like' button says he never made a 'dislike' button because he feared the 'unfortunate consequences'
Ukraine crisis: Donetsk 'tactical missile' explosion at factory sends blast wave across rebel-held city
Jack the Ripper: Scientist who claims to have identified notorious killer has 'made serious DNA error'
Banksy arrest hoax: Internet duped by fake report claiming street artist's identity has been revealed
Super-sized ships arrive in Britain: How big can they get?
Former East 17 frontman Brian Harvey turns up at Downing Street and 'demands to speak to Prime Minister'
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
Amal Alamuddin calls for the return of the Elgin Marbles from Britain: 'Injustice has persisted for too long'
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
Lord Freud: Tory welfare minister apologises after saying disabled people are 'not worth’ the minimum wage
£21000 - £31000 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: French Teacher ? Sou...
£21000 - £31000 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Geography Teacher ? ...
£50 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an experienced Cover Super...
£50 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Randstad Education is looking to e...