On Sunday 22 June, the Speaker of the House of Commons, the Rt Hon John Bercow MP, marked five years since his election to office on 22 June 2009, as the 157th Speaker.
The Speaker commented on his anniversary:
"After five years much has been achieved but there is still more work to do. I believe the House of Commons is more vibrant and relevant than when I took office in 2009. It is my hope that, over time, the reputation of the House of Commons will be improved by the reforms I have encouraged as the Speaker, including the revival of Urgent Questions."
In those five years, the Speaker has reinvigorated Urgent Questions, granting 177 in his term of office as compared to two granted in the last year of the previous Speaker's office (2008-9). The Urgent Question or UQ is a device which allows any Member of Parliament on any sitting day to petition the Speaker to demand that a department supplies a Minister to answer some issue or matter that has arisen very suddenly. UQs have now become an established element in the parliamentary timetable.
The Speaker's record of reform and achievements includes:
- Work to construct a dedicated Education Centre that will begin shortly following Westminster City Council granting planning permission. The new Education Centre will open during the 2015 academic year, allowing the capacity for education visitors to more than double from the current 45,000 to 95,000 children and students.
- A significant increase in Parliament's outreach work; the Speaker has personally participated in over 100 formal, external, outreach events around the UK, since being elected as Speaker in 2009.
- Ensuring that there is a nursery for the children of staff and members, which opened in September 2010 and provides places for 40 children.
- Establishing a helpline, primarily to offer additional welfare support to MPs' staff.
- Reforming the approach to senior level recruitment, including ensuring that for the first time the role of Clerk of the House was publicly advertised and there is an open application process.
- Taking action to increase the representation of women and minority ethnic staff at senior levels in the House and establishing four workplace equality networks (LGBT, disability, gender and race/ethnicity/cultural heritage).