Pete Wishart launches bid to become House of Commons speaker

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 1 May 2019 in News

The MP for Perth and North Perthshire launched his campaign based in plans to introduce electronic voting and allowing Parliament to hold debates around the UK

Image credit: PA

SNP MP Pete Wishart has launched a bid to become Speaker of the House of Commons based on plans to introduce electronic voting and allowing Parliament to hold debates around the UK.

With John Bercow rumoured to be quitting as Speaker in the summer, Wishart announced his plans to become "the first post-war Speaker from beyond the two main parties".

The MP for Perth and North Perthshire would be required to resign from the SNP if he was selected for the position, which is decided via a secret ballot of members.

Launching his campaign, Wishart released ten points which he would aim to deliver in office, including the introduction of electronic voting, ending the current practice of MPs being selected to speak based on seniority, and creating an “open and available list of when members would be expected to speak prior to the start of a debate”, with “members with a long standing interest in the debate to be called early following opening speeches with a ballot system designed to select the rest of the speakers on an equitable basis”.

He would also change the system so members can address each other by name – rather than constituency of title – abolish the parliamentary dress code, extend proxy voting, allow clapping,  and replace the House of Commons commission with an ‘Executive of the House’ involving all members of the House of Commons community including staff representatives.

Wishart would also take parliament around the UK, allowing some debates outside Westminster and reform the institution so working hours are more in keeping with other workplaces.

He said: “It is time for a Speaker to come from beyond the big two parties to demonstrate that Parliament represents all shades of political opinion and all parts of the UK.

“I will offer a clear reforming agenda that will fully respect Members of Parliament and treat every one of them equally and fairly.”

He added: “My mission as Speaker will be to lead from the front the efforts to reform Parliament and make the House look and feel like a proper 21st century institution.

First elected in 2001, Wishart currently chairs the Scottish Affairs Select Committee.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, back the move, saying: "For as long as the SNP is in the House of Commons, we should be trying to make it work as well as we can, and undo some of the barriers that are in the way, we've seen all too powerfully in the Brexit debate how Scotland's voice is not being heard."

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