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Local LibDems want to create new seat for Speaker.

September 16, 2009 9:05 AM

Liberal Democrats in the Buckingham constituency of the new Speaker of the

House of Commons, John Bercow, have launched a campaign to overturn the

convention which rules out normal Parliamentary elections in the Speaker's

seat.

They are calling on their party's national leadership to allow an official

Lib Dem candidate to contest the constituency at the coming General

Election, if reforms they are proposing to appoint the Speaker to an

honorary seat are not put in place by then.

The Buckingham constituency executive called the current system, whereby the

main parties do not field candidates against the Speaker, "outdated and

undemocratic."

Buckingham Lib Dems constituency chairman Ian Metherell said: "If the main

parties follow the generally-held Parliamentary convention of not standing

against the Speaker, thousands of voters who would have backed one of these

parties will be denied their right to vote for the party of their choice. We

believe this is fundamentally undemocratic. We want all electors in

Buckingham to have a full and proper opportunity to express their preference

for MP."

The local party's executive submitted an

emergency motion to the Lib Dem Autumn Conference, which opens in

Bournemouth on Saturday 19th September,

calling for the present system to be reformed.

The motion calls on the government to add to the Constitutional Renewal Bill

currently before Parliament a provision that the Speaker would be

automatically appointed as MP for an honorary constituency. This would free

his former constituents "to exercise their democratic right to vote for the

party of their choice."

The motion goes on to urge the Party to "ensure that, if this reform is not

in place by the time of the general election, a Liberal Democrat candidate

will stand in the Speaker's constituency to enable voters to make a true and

unfettered democratic choice at the ballot box."

Ian Metherell said: "Almost 50 years after a bill was first proposed in

Parliament to give the Speaker an honorary constituency, such as the Palace

of Westminster, electors are still being effectively disenfranchised by an

outdated convention. And this is a state of affairs set to carry on as long

as John Bercow remains Speaker of the House of Commons.

"Since Mr Bercow's appointment we have been discussing this issue at local,

regional and national level and within our own membership. We are putting

forward a clear and positive proposal on how we feel the position of the

Speaker should be protected, and the electorate allowed a free choice of

MP."