Speaker ignores calls to stand down

Speaker Michael Martin faced direct calls for him to quit today over the Westminster expenses scandal but refused to give any indication if he would step down.

In extraordinary scenes in the Commons, Mr Martin said he was "profoundly sorry" for the public anger over MPs' expenses claims.

"We all bear a heavy responsibility for the terrible damage to the reputation of this House. We must do everything we possibly can to regain the trust and confidence of the people."

Mr Martin said he was calling an urgent meeting of all the party leaders to discuss proposals for reform.

But backbench anger over the Speaker's handling of the crisis swiftly erupted on the floor of the House as a series of MPs directly challenged his authority in points of order.

Labour's Gordon Prentice (Pendle), one of the signatories of the motion of no confidence in the Speaker, asked if it would be debated tomorrow and voted upon.

Mr Martin said this was not a point of order but was interrupted by Mr Prentice who insisted "Oh yes it is".

The Speaker continued: "These are matters for debate on an appropriate motion."

Tory Douglas Carswell, who tabled the no confidence motion earlier, demanded: "When will Members be allowed to choose a new speaker with the moral authority to clean up Westminster and the legitimacy to lift this House out of the mire?"

The Speaker initially said Mr Carswell's motion was an Early Day Motion and unlikely to be debated, telling the Tory: "Please give me credit for having some experience in the chair".

But following a series of interventions from MPs and clarification from the clerks, he said the motion would be listed in the "remaining orders" which could only be proceeded with if it became a substantive motion.



In response to Labour's David Winnick (Walsall N), Mr Martin refused to say whether he would step down before the next general election.

Mr Winnick said: "There is great public anger outside which undoubtedly has harmed the reputation of this House. We all bear responsibility, I take my share of responsibility like every other Honourable Member.

"But can I put this to you, and I'm not associated with the motion, Sir, would you bear in mind that it would be very useful to the reputation of this House - and I say this with reluctance, but I say it all the same - if you gave some indication of your own intention to retire. Your early retirement, Sir, would help the reputation of the House."

Mr Martin pointed out that the veteran MP would know "that's not a subject for today".





Mr Martin said that while the Commons awaited the report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life "we must search for agreement" so Commons Leader Harriet Harman could bring forward resolutions to deal with the issue.

"In the meantime I do urge all Members not to submit claims for approval."

The Speaker said he had last week held a "most productive" meeting with standards watchdog Sir Christopher Kelly, who said he hoped to bring proposals forward in the autumn on MPs' expenses and allowances.

"While we await the outcome of his work it is imperative that we continue to improve our accounts and practice in the interim and get in place measures that work and are seen to be working."



Michael Martin's statement came after a motion of no confidence in him was tabled by Tory MP Douglas Carswell, and signed by 15 MPs from the three major parties, after Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg urged him to resign.





Earlier today Gordon Brown declared that Michael Martin's fate was in the hands of MPs. The Prime Minister called for "root and branch reform" of the expenses system, but when invited to back Mr Martin said simply: "The decision on who is Speaker is a matter for the House of Commons."

Mr Brown has previously praised Mr Martin as doing a good job, but that formula has now been dropped both by the premier and his spokesman.

Mr Martin also faced the prospect of a motion of no confidence in him being tabled at Westminster and Mr Brown's spokesman said: "The Prime Minister and the Government will support the will of the House."

Speaking at an event in north London to mark the launch of the Government's car scrappage scheme, Mr Brown said: "The decision about who is Speaker is a matter for the House of Commons. It could never be a matter for the Government."



He added: "What we have seen in expenses and in the revelations has angered and appalled me. It has angered me because people expect politicians to be serving the public and not serving themselves. It has appalled me because I was brought up to believe that we must have the best standards in public life.

"So there has got to be fundamental change. We are no longer talking about papering over the cracks. We are no longer talking about a minor change here or there.

"There has got to be root-and-branch reform and I am hopeful that we can get a consensus in this country about what is needed to be done to have a complete clean-up of the political system and to make sure that people can have trust in what their politicians do.

"Some MPs are doing a very, very good job - indeed most of them are. But where there are faults, and where there are failings and where people are responsible, they have to accept that there will be disciplinary action.

"We will cut the expenditure on these items and at the same time we will have a wholesale root-and-branch reform of the system."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
News
Lizards, such as Iguanas (pictured), have a unique pattern of tissue growth
science
Extras
indybest
News
Anna Nicole Smith died of an accidental overdose in 2007
people
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tvReview: Bread-making skills of the Bake Off hopefuls put to the test
Extras
indybest
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Digital Project Manager/BA

£300 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: An experienced Digital/Ecommerc...

Creative Content Executive (writer, social media, website)

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum + 25 days holiday and bonus: Clearwater People Solut...

Access/Teradata Developer, Banking, Bristol £400pd

£375 - £400 per day: Orgtel: Access / Teradata Developer - Banking - Bristol -...

Regional ESF Contract Manager

£32500 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Birmingham: European Social Fund...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home