Mandelson should face MPs, says Speaker

Lord Mandelson should be forced to face questions from MPs because of his growing influence over government policy, the Commons Speaker, John Bercow, has said.

Peers in the Cabinet cannot be questioned in the Commons at present. However, Mr Bercow said he wanted both Peter Mandelson, the First Secretary of State, and Lord Adonis, the Transport Secretary, to take part in a new "experiment", during which they could be quizzed publicly by MPs for the first time.

He said that the sheer size of Lord Mandelson's Department for Business, Innovation and Skills meant that there was a need to change the rules.

"I find the fact that backbenchers have no means of directly questioning prominent ministers of the Crown because they happen to sit in the House of Lords to be less than satisfactory," he said in a speech to the Hansard Society last night. "That is even more true at a time when the Cabinet contains the esteemed Lord Mandelson, whose empire is of a scale not seen since the death of Alexander the Great, and the thoughtful Lord Adonis who presides over the transportation network.

"I suspect that both of these individuals would concede that they should be responsible to backbench MPs and would be more than willing to participate in an experiment."

He also suggested that the lengthy summer recess, during which MPs provoked some public anger for having a 12-week break from the Commons, could be cut in the future. "I see no reason why September must be deemed sacred," he said.

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