The Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow visited India from 16-20 August at the invitation of Mrs Meira Kumar, Honourable Speaker of the Lok Sabha (Indian Parliament)
The visit was an opportunity for Mr Speaker to witness how parliamentary counterparts in India execute the business of passing legislation and hold the executive to account. The visit was also a chance to strengthen ties between the two parliaments.
During the visit, Mr Speaker met with the Foreign Minister SM Krishna; Smt. Sushma Swaraj, Leader of Opposition, Lok Sabha; Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on External Affairs, Mr Ananth Kumar; and President and Members of India-UK Parliamentary Friendship Group.
On Friday 19 August, Mr Speaker delivered a lecture on ‘Parliamentary Reform’ at The University of Delhi under the ‘University Lecture Series’. Eminent Indian and international personalities including Gordon Brown, H.H. the Dalai Lama, Chris Patten and Shiv Shankar Menon have previously delivered speeches as part of the lecture series.
During his speech, Mr Speaker reflected on Parliament’s approach to recent events surrounding News International and set out three rules for effective parliamentary democracy.
Mr Speaker said, “Democracy is a process, not an event... To me the unique feature of parliamentary democracy is that it alone is capable of acting as a credible check and balance on each of the executive and the electorate. It constitutes the whole gearbox, not a false choice between either the accelerator pressed flat or the brake squashed hard.”