Speaker 'to stand for re-election' despite Green row

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Indy Politics

Beleaguered Commons Speaker Michael Martin is set to defy his critics and stand for a third term, it was reported.

Many MPs had expected that Mr Martin, who has been under fire over his handling of the police raid on Tory MP Damian Green's Commons office, would stand down at the next general election.

However The Sunday Times reported that he had now let it be known through his office that he wanted to carry on into the next Parliament.

According to the paper, his office authorised his spokeswoman to say that his position "has not changed" since he issued a declaration in 2007 that he would stand again.

"He has always been clear that he will continue as long as his constituents in Glasgow North East and the House of Commons want him to," she was quoted as saying.

Mr Martin's position was further eroded after Bob Marshall-Andrews became the first Labour MP to call publicly for him to quit.

The veteran leftwinger said that he had lost the confidence of the House after he allowed police to enter the Commons without a search warrant and should now go. Two Tory MPs have already said that he should resign.

Mr Marshall-Andrews said that Mr Martin's handling of the affair represented a "deplorable breach" of his duties to the House of Commons.

"That is very serious and, frankly, I do not think he can continue," he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

He was particularly scathing about Mr Martin's attempt to pass responsibility for what happened to the Serjeant at Arms, Jill Pay, who signed the consent form allowing police to enter the House and search Mr Green's office.

"It is the Speaker's responsibility. One of the worst things about this was the nature of the statement that he made which was a straightforward passing of his responsibilities to the Serjeant at Arms," Mr Marshall-Andrews said.

"He knew what was happening and he should have taken action to stop it. In those circumstances, the confidence of the House goes and without the confidence of the House he cannot do his job."

However former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell said that Mr Martin was unlikely to be forced out.

He said that the Government would be determined to avoid a by-election in Mr Martin's Glasgow North East constituency after Labour's loss of Glasgow East earlier this year.

"If the Speaker steps down, by convention he or she leaves the House of Commons and goes to the House of Lords. I can't imagine Gordon Brown looks forward with any enthusiasm to fighting another difficult by-election in Glasgow," Sir Menzies told the Today programme.

Mr Martin came under further pressure today after a survey of backbench MPs showed more than 30 no longer have confidence in him.

Of the 130 MPs quizzed for BBC Radio 4's The World This Weekend, 50 believed he was to blame for allowing the search of Mr Green's office.

However, 36 disagreed with this and 56 said they still had confidence in him.

A number of MPs told the programme they had been "shocked" and "disturbed" by the Speaker's Commons statement last Wednesday when he expressed "regret" that Serjeant at Arms Jill Pay signed a consent form for the search without his personal authority.

The exact number of MPs who said they had no confidence in Mr Martin was 32, the survey found.

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