John Bercow under pressure to stand down as Commons Speaker

Elias Hubbard
October 17, 2018

Ministers are now being questioned in the Commons about Monday's critical report by Dame Laura Cox which said harassment allegations had not been dealt with properly because of a culture of "acquiescence and silence".

The speaker of Britain's lower house of parliament, John Bercow, will leave his post next summer, the BBC and other local media reported on Tuesday, but his office said he had made no announcement about a leaving date.

Senior MPs have called on Mr Bercow to quit, with Maria Miller telling him that "change in leadership" was needed at the top, "including you".

Media captionMaria Miller: "There needs to be complete change in leadership at the most serious level - including you Mr Speaker".

Approached for a comment on the Speaker's plans, a spokeswoman said: "The Speaker was elected by the House in 2017 for the course of the Parliament".

The document says Mr Bercow is not in a position to address an alleged culture of "deference, subservience, acquiescence and silence" among staff in the House of Commons.

"The House of Commons has recently passed an independent complaints process to deal with cases of bullying, sexual harassment and victimisation under the supervision of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards".

Mr Bercow, a former Tory MP who represents Buckingham, has denied claims he bullied two of his former private secretaries - claims which MPs opted not to investigate earlier this year.

He said it was up to MPs to decide, but he said he thought the investigation of harassment and bullying claims should be handed over to a new external body, independent of MPs.

Calling for a "massive overhaul" of Commons management, Labour's Jess Phillips said: "Nothing I have heard today fills me with any hope that politics will be taken out of this and that the same 12 people - and we all know exactly who they are and exactly how they are getting away with it - won't just be walking around for the next 20 years". "They wanted to use the information privately to help control their MPs".

"We will not use it for political gain".

However, others warned against a witch-hunt, with ex-Conservative minister Sir Desmond Swayne saying most MPs acted "perfectly properly" and were not treated like "demi-gods" by their staff.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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