Statement to the House from the Speaker: 1 September 2014

Speaker's Statement to the House: 1 September 2014
01 September 2014

The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow MP, made the following statement on Monday 1 September 2014 at the start of the day's proceedings:

"I wish to make a statement concerning the Clerk and Chief Executive of the House.
"Currently, these two roles are combined in a single post, despite their very different nature. Over the years, Parliament’s affairs have become more complex, its Budget has ordinarily risen and decisions - such as on a potential refurbishment of the House - have become unavoidable. Thus, highly skilled management is now vital, as much as expertise in procedure.

"Yet my preference for separating the two aspects of the post did not meet with sufficient support before the recruitment process started and, in consequence, the combined position of Clerk and Chief Executive was openly advertised.

"A range of candidates were considered by an interview panel consisting of five Hon. Members, and a lay member, Dame Julie Mellor. Two rounds of interviews were conducted and at each stage, the panel sought to select one person who could meet the demanding twin roles both of procedural advisor to the House and of its Chief Executive Officer. The panel reached its decision on July 30th.
"However, a number of colleagues have since expressed disquiet. Their concerns fall into two broad categories. The first, helpfully raised by the Hon. Member for Rutland and Melton, is whether the panel should have recommended separating the roles. I was advised that the panel could not adopt this approach without prior legislation. As I have said, there is a compelling case for such a separation, but any change would of course require the support of the House.

"The second concern is for pre-appointment scrutiny, and was initially put forward by the Hon. Member for North East Somerset. A strong case can be made for it and, on this point also, I wish to hear colleagues' views.

"In the circumstances, and having discussed the matter with the Leader and Shadow Leader of the House, I believe that a modest pause, in the recruitment process, is desirable while such issues are explored and the views of Members solicited in detail.

"In the meantime, the functions of the Clerk and Chief Executive will be distributed between members of the Management Board. I am sure that the whole House will wish them well in the discharge of these important duties, while the matter is resolved with goodwill and by consensus."

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