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It's Speaker Week on PM. Read Lord Carey's ideas here:

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Eddie Mair | 17:00 UK time, Thursday, 18 June 2009

Here at PM, we're offering you the chance to vote for the best ideas on cleaning up public life and restoring faith in politics.

We're calling it Speaker Week.

We've asked four people - none of them politicians - to put forward their personal manifestos for change. You can hear them on consecutive nights, and on Friday they'll debate each other.

Then you'll be able to vote by phone for the person whose ideas you like best.

On Monday it was the manifesto of Colonel Tim Collins, which you can read here.

On Tuesday it was the manifesto of A L Kennedy.

Last night, it was the manifesto of Greg Dyke.

Tonight it's the manifesto of Lord Carey.


Feel free to read his words and let us know what you think by clicking on Comments.

"The election of a new Speaker comes as public anger with politicians is at an all-time high, and the reputation of parliament is at its lowest ebb. Against this background, the urgent job of the next Speaker is to restore public trust by opening up the political process to public scrutiny. Proposals for parliamentary pay and expenses to come under an independent watchdog are right and proper. The public needs reassurance that no longer can MPs both set the rules and enforce them. But I am less persuaded by far-reaching proposals for constitutional and electoral reform as a kind of panic measure to restore public trust. Take just one example: in the debate between an elected or an appointed second chamber, I am not convinced that the public has any appetite for yet another body of elected party politicians in their revising chamber. A fully elected House of Lords would become more than a revising chamber; it would challenge the supremacy of the Commons and become yet another locus of power, upsetting our delicate constitutional balance. The Speaker must have a say in defending the authority of the Commons, against executive power in the form of ill-conceived and opportunistic reforms.

So what would I personally like to see? Isn't it time that the term "right honourable" came to mean something again? While Speakers don't have a great deal of actual power, they have a vital role in establishing a strong ethos of trust and accountability. Clear and principled leadership is needed here, including setting an example of openness and communicating clearly with both MPs and the public. Such an ethos would deal firmly with boorish behaviour, and other problems, by appropriate disciplinary procedures.

Second, is a matter of concern that the laws set by Parliament demand accountability from public bodies, charities and private businesses, yet nothing is in place for a regular reporting process from Parliament to the voters. I would like to see an annual report from Parliament, dealing with both financial and political matters, put together by a cross party group of MPs and Peers. This would aim to set out clearly and simply the business conducted by Parliament and its financial affairs. This body would ask whether governments were meeting their manifesto commitments and delivering their programme set out in the Queen's Speech. This method of reporting could be followed by a series of public hearings in Parliament where the public themselves could question their representatives. Furthermore, every member should directly present an annual report to their constituencies in public meetings, setting out all their political and constituency work, financial dealings and second jobs, so that voters can question them between elections.

Third, from a House of Lords perspective, too much legislation comes from the House of Commons half-baked. More than 3000 new laws have been created since 1997. One of the greatest concerns today is the way that the ordinary voter's life has been tied up in red tape. The Speaker has to take some responsibility for ensuring that all measures have adequate time for public consultation, in committees and for debate in the chamber. If that slows down the amount of government legislation that can be put on the statute book in any one session, then so be it."


  • 1. At 5:22pm on 18 Jun 2009, Matterbooboo wrote:

    Eddie - can you ask the Bish what are the expenses of the members of the General Synod like?

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  • 2. At 6:03pm on 18 Jun 2009, normanmugabe wrote:

    Here's the scripture this evening's contributor might've suggested:
    Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it. Except the Lord keep the city, the watchmen waketh but in vain.

    Psalm 127

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  • 3. At 6:04pm on 18 Jun 2009, Sid wrote:

    I'm guessing there won't be many comments, as he didn't real say anything. We don't want to upset the delicate balance of our constitution? I think we do. There is no mood for an elected second chamber? Depends who you talk to.

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  • 4. At 6:14pm on 18 Jun 2009, NJH wrote:

    I was certainly falling asleep . . . hey, what about taking the theocratic and feudal element out of the Lords as a start? But . . let's not upset anyone . . zzzz

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  • 5. At 6:16pm on 18 Jun 2009, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Sid @ 3, it may appeal really quite a lot to the people who are fed to the back teeth with perpetual change for the sake of change, and with change that is intended to conceal the fact that something is wrong with what is already in place, but will not in fact make better any of the flaws.

    Like "let's not enforce the perfectly good law we already have about dogs that bite people; let's make a whole new shiny law that not only doesn't do the job the old one did if it was ever enforced, but fails to do the job it was badly-drafted to try to do".

    Or "let's change the law about hunting with dogs, and then after a couple of years allow it to be announced that the new law we have made will be ignored by the police because it is too difficult to enforce".

    Or "let's change the constitution of the House of Lords so that it won't be able to stop us from doing what we want to any more." (This last has been a tremendous failure, because thank goodness the HoL does still try to put the brakes onto the sillier new legislation, at least onto some of it.)

    That last paragraph of Carey's is addressing bad new law ("half-baked") as a problem, and I think it may have great appeal for that reason.

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  • 6. At 6:19pm on 18 Jun 2009, paravacini wrote:

    Well said Dr Carey - a very measured and balanced approach. I applaud all that you said - especially your views on the House of Lords and the analytical inadequacy of the Lower House with regard to proposed legislation. I also applaud what you did not say - for example no childish hyperbole about sweeping aside all the hard fought democratic symbolism; those who either ignore or sweep aside history do the country a great disservice. One omission I do regret - Dr Carey could well have suggested a significant reduction in the number of MPs. Given that the World's largest democracy - India - functions effectively with 540 MPs, a surplus might be the appropriate collective noun for their UK counterparts. With fewer snouts in the trough, India not only boasts an expanding economy but also demonstrates no parliamentary pressure to open the Presidential Residence to the general public.

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  • 7. At 6:30pm on 18 Jun 2009, typicallistener wrote:

    Not sure about the first part, but the last paragraph, absolutely, totally agree. There are so many badly drafted laws around these days that have been rushed through parliament. Does the speaker really have the power to affect this though?

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  • 8. At 6:43pm on 18 Jun 2009, Lady_Sue wrote:

    Sid@3 - disagree and very much agree with Chris@5, who pretty well sums it up.

    I was hugely impressed. I am an atheist who was foolishly expecting something along religious lines. I was very pleasantly surprised.

    This was a very considered, highly intelligent, insightful speech and, unlike Greg Dyke's tyrannical manifesto, it kept within the remit of the Speaker's duties.

    I very much look forward to hearing the debate between Collins and Carey. You can leave the other two out of it, though I suspect Greg Dyke knows how to get in to BBC premises.

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  • 9. At 6:45pm on 18 Jun 2009, Alan_Kerr wrote:

    Do unto others, I say, even when flies are involved. How would President Obama like to be swatted?
    Christina Rossetti puts it best: Hurt no living thing, ladybird nor butterfly, nor moth with dusty wing...


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  • 10. At 7:05pm on 18 Jun 2009, Sid wrote:

    Well, yes Chris - agree entirely about laws. Far too many, ill-thought out etc. But - that's not really down to the speaker, is it?

    The change we haven't had, and which Lord Carey said we don't need, is constitutional change. Labour have had a half-hearted attempt at it - HoL, devolution for Wales & Scotland ... but haven't given us a written constitution, a Bill of Rights, a fair voting system - all of which I believe are necessary now.

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  • 11. At 7:49pm on 18 Jun 2009, AndrewKetley wrote:

    Very much with Lady_Sue (#8). To be honest, I'd quite forgotten who Lord Carey is, and was startled to be reminded that he's a bishop. The speech was thoughtful and measured, and demonstrated the best understanding of the way the British constitution works. (Tim Collins and Greg Dyke were worth hearing, but off the mark, and A L Kennedy's contribution was irritatingly silly and should not have been included.)
    I'm in favour of significant constitutional change (written constitution, STV with majority bonus), but not as a knee-jerk reaction to a tangentally related scandal. Badly drafted, reduplicative knee-jerk legislation is one of the problems we want to solve, isn't it? I want to see the next election fought in part on a substantive consitutional debate so that the next government has a clear and informed mandate for change.
    On the subject of bad legislation, my ha'p'nyworth is #87 in the most recent Furrowed Brow.

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  • 12. At 8:17pm on 18 Jun 2009, eighty-eight wrote:

    Lady_Sue, 8

    it kept within the remit of the Speaker's duties

    I was thinking along the same lines after reading one or other of the offerings and then I looked at the brief that Eddie set for them: "to put forward their personal manifestos for change."

    So as I read it, it's open season on everything.

    Apart from keeping an appointed House of Lords, I thought that Lord Carey had some good ideas. I really like MPs having to report to their constituents every year.

    On the House of Lords, I think that the issue is deciding what we want it to be. For me,

    - a Commons where members are elected by something other than first past the post but not PR (e.g. alternative vote would suit me); and

    - a House of Lords elected using PR

    would provide a suitable mix of

    - likelihood of a Government majority; and

    - representation of everyone's views in the House of Lords, which the Government of the day would have to convince if they want to get their legislation through.

    Another idea that I came across on Lords of the Blog (see point 2), is to have a core of elected Lords who could vote, and other expert Lords who could only advise. I'm not sure that it would work in practice, but it is an interesting thought.

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  • 13. At 8:20pm on 18 Jun 2009, Sid wrote:

    AndrewKetley - there's nothing knee-jerk about the wish many of us have for constitutional change ...

    I do agree that Lord Carey showed a clear grasp of how the British constitution works - what he did not seem to grasp was how broken it is.

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  • 14. At 8:48pm on 18 Jun 2009, AndrewKetley wrote:

    @Sid (13) - Agreed, but it's the risk of a knee-jerk response by the government that worries me. Hurried changes (in response to current headlines) rather than considered changes (in response to long-standing concerns) could be worse than no change at all.

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  • 15. At 8:53pm on 18 Jun 2009, Charlie wrote:

    Lord Carey, like all others commenting on this thread before him, makes excellent and valid (very) points.

    But, why so late?

    I think Lord Carey's a thoughtfull, honest and caring man.

    In so many respects, a natural "Shepherd". Well, what else..?

    However, a true sadness for me (I have no religious beliefs whatsoever by the way; which I sometimes think is my loss...) is that Lord Carey didn't make his humanitarian views, more strongly felt. When in office.

    Lord Carey didn't speak-out loudly enough to protect his flock. He didn't shout! About so many issues. And now..?

    The present Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu is a different kettle-of-fish. He, it seems has "fire" in his belly.

    Speaks his mind this fellow. And, LOUDLY! No inherent fear, it seems, of upsetting anyone. Wonder what his views on "our" predicament might be..? And, I'd guess, he'd want to be hands-on.

    A true defender of/and fighter for "his" flock.

    Maybe even a defender of people like me. Now, there's a thing...

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  • 16. At 10:31pm on 18 Jun 2009, Tim2000BACH wrote:

    There is no way Lord Carey should have been given air time.

    He is an EX archbishop. Why couldn't we hear from a serving one?

    Carey was always far too anxious to appease the establishment (including sidling up to the Monarchy) to be taken at all seriously.

    I am really fed up with this guy being dragged out of the woodwork for the benefit of Daily Mail readers when the Church (of England's) current leaders are much radical and forward looking.

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  • 17. At 10:54pm on 18 Jun 2009, Inglemere wrote:

    The ex-leader of our established church and not one mention of God or our protestant heritage! Does he not realize that the Bible contains the answers we need? Matthew 22;36-40 makes it abundantly clear: love the Lord & love thy neighbour.
    As a nation we have lost both these and with them the honesty and morality that we should show towards each other - esteeming others better than ourselves. The Bible also says he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. As such our leaders; ministers of state or speaker of the house; are servants of the people and should set a God fearing example to the nation, acknowledging the evils which abound.
    We would then return to an observance of the Sabath and the Established Church would stand for the truth again. Surely then there would be less greed, less discontent, less family break-up, less waste of our time and resources, even less stress in our society and greater prosperity.
    New buildings, more rules, changes to our parliamentary system, or limits on the time members can serve are all unnecessary and a waste. I'm dissapointed BBC that you could not find more suitable candidates. Of the four you put forward Colonel Tim Collins is a poor best.

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  • 18. At 11:20pm on 18 Jun 2009, Lady_Sue wrote:

    (17) Inglemere: "... love thy neighbour"...

    Not all your neighbours are Protestant.

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  • 19. At 11:51pm on 18 Jun 2009, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Lady Sue @ 18, we certainly ought to follow the Muslim teacher who said, in effect, "We know the Christians are misguided, and their religion is based on a mistake, but we should listen to what they say, because they might get something right by accident."

    (Back in the eleventh century, that was.)

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  • 20. At 09:46am on 19 Jun 2009, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:

    Sorry Eddie, but having heard all four candidates I can say confidently that I wouldn't trust any one of them to run the proverbial whelk-stall.*

    They do have careers in front of them as callers to Radio 5.

    (*) Proverbial whelks are more expensive, but well worth it.

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  • 21. At 10:39am on 19 Jun 2009, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Sid @ 10, the paragraph at the end tells me exactly what the Speaker could be doing to start dealing with that problem *if he or she chose*. That is the point of that paragraph.

    As with political parties, I wouldn't want all the ideas of any of the four to be adopted. Some from each, more like it.

    I do hope that people will look at what we are actually being asked to vote about and stop thinking "do I want X for Speaker?", which is not what we are being asked. If someone cannot even listen to the question, should they be attended to if they give an answer to a question that has not been asked?

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  • 22. At 12:04pm on 19 Jun 2009, GWFHegel wrote:

    My take for what its worth, is that
    the moral voice should be one that has the courage to challenge the prevailing dogma. This is where real constitutional choices are denied by our voting system. Carey does not appear to understand what it means to be disenfranchised by our political system.

    It is not democratic at all, for in affect
    we are always voting for policies designed to take away more of our cherished freedoms. As this game suggests, it is not about real constitutional choices, but the nanny state and a culture of celebrities.

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  • 23. At 1:29pm on 19 Jun 2009, sutershill wrote:

    Tim Collins comments are aspirational and I can identify with them. However Greg Dyke has made clear practical proposals and I agree with his programme for reform. For many years I have disliked the idea that there are MPs who think they have a job for life and have not worked for any length of time in occupations unconnected to politics. Also there are too many lawyers and there should be secret voting so there is undue pressure on how an MP votes. Most really practical people are deterred from standing as candidates for Parliament because there is too much unnecessary argument when there should be careful preparation and scrunity of legislation that can be clearly understood, implimented for the common good.
    So my vote goes to Greg Dyke - will he last the course? someone has to!

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  • 24. At 3:14pm on 19 Jun 2009, TerryS wrote:

    I found Lord Carey's manifesto very disappointing and conservative, especially since when I had a discussion with him in Wells (Somerset) back in 1989 (when he was Archbishop of Bath & Wells) he came across as surprisingly forward-thinking and innovative. Clearly in the intervening years he has well and truly joined the Establishment and become corrupted by the House of Lords. Talking of which, what a surprise that he is opposed to an elected second chamber when he himself is an unelected Lord!

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  • 25. At 3:28pm on 19 Jun 2009, TerryS wrote:

    Re. the comments by Chris_Ghoti in message #5.

    Regarding the "law about hunting with dogs", I would just like to point out that with just a few minor changes (such as the inclusion of 'reckless action' etc) the law could have been made far easier to enforce and far more effective, however once the bill was first voted on in the Commons it was not possible to improve it through amendments, as would normally be the procedure, because that would have invalidated the use of the 1949 Parliament Act which, sadly, was required in order to force the bill past the resistance of the Lords. Thus any shortcomings in the Hunting Act are primarily due to the reactionary nature of the anti-democratic House of Lords.

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  • 26. At 4:51pm on 19 Jun 2009, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    TerryS @ 25, up to a point, butif it was a mess when they put it through the commons, and they then forced it through the Lords, isn't its being a mess at least as much because it was ill-drawn-up in the first place and then rushed through in a hurry? If the government hadn't wanted to be seen to be doing something about it, anything, they could have made less of a pig's ear in the first place by taking a bit more time to get it right before they launched it at all.

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  • 27. At 5:08pm on 19 Jun 2009, Sid wrote:

    Chris - Henry Porter has some relevant comments to make (as usual) here.

    He starts:

    "A month ago I drew attention to the way in which the guillotine was being used by the government to cut short debate, when the pressures on parliament's timetable were in fact very few because of the huge holidays MPs were taking."

    Good stuff.

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  • 28. At 5:13pm on 19 Jun 2009, TerryS wrote:

    Chris, re message #26. I (partially) agree with you that the bill could (and should) have been worded more effectively at the outset, but I do not believe that the Government thought "it was a mess when they put it through the commons" - it is my impression that they thought it was adequate, however they underestimated the pig-headedness, selfishness and arrogance of those who participate in hunting! I am certainly not going to defend this Labour Government, which on the whole is pretty useless, however introducing the hunting ban was, in my opinion, one of the few outright good things that it has done. And it would have been even better had the intransigence of the House of Lords not prevented the bill being amended and the consequent law improved.

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  • 29. At 5:21pm on 19 Jun 2009, David_McNickle wrote:

    I met that Lord Carey once...at a funeral.

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  • 30. At 5:42pm on 19 Jun 2009, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    TerryS @ 28, Well, sure, the Government (and the members of the House of Commons) are not likely to have thought it was a mess; if they had they might have done something about that before they started. But isn't it a bit sad if they put forward legisation that is a mess and rely on someone else pointing this out before it becomes the law? Wouldn't it be better if they thought about it *first*?

    The hunting bill is one of many-many that are a nightmare for the police because they're so full of loopholes and so difficult to enforce that it is going to take forever to get them sorted out through the courts, and it's an appalling waste of police time trying to.

    Ignoring the hunting one for a moment, what about the Dangerous Dogs Act?

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  • 31. At 6:39pm on 19 Jun 2009, notasponger wrote:

    From my experience, those wanting an elected House of Lords tend to come from an old Labour perspective and don't like 'privilege' on principle.
    But remember, elected MP's rely on your vote so will say whatever they think will get that vote. Members of the Lords turn up out of a sense of duty and there is far less party-political point-scoring and more reasoned (and well-informed) debate.

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  • 32. At 6:50pm on 19 Jun 2009, Inglemere wrote:

    Lady_Sue @ 18 wrote:
    (17) Inglemere: "... love thy neighbour"...

    Not all your neighbours are Protestant.
    Why does that make any difference?
    Have you read this?
    "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;" Matt 5:44

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  • 33. At 10:14pm on 21 Jun 2009, Genuflectus wrote:

    Carey's ideas concern opening up the political process to public scrutiny by:
    (1) MPs' salary and expenses being independently set and policed.
    (2) Lords being wholly elected
    (3) Speaker being able to check the power of the executive eg by not allowing laws that are "unfit for purpose" from being steam-rollered through
    (4) Speaker setting an example of openess
    (5) Speaker disciplining boorish behaviour so MPs can continue to call themselves "Right Honourable"
    (6) Parliament reporting annually and critically on the progress of government. Hearings of the report should be open to public participation.
    (7) MPs too should present an annual report for constituent appraisal

    I think Carey has probably presented the limit to which the establishment are prepared to go, so we probably wont see any change beyond this and be glad if we get this much.
    MPs will be voting for Carey in their droves because his reforms have the least impact on them and provide opportunity for fudging the issue, which is anyway what they are good at. But I hope they prove me wrong and resolve this issue in a way that gives them honour.

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