MP publishes "order of succession" if PM incapacitated


In eight years in parliament, Peter Bone has earned a reputation as a member of the awkward squad of Tory backbenchers hostile to the coalition with the Liberal Democrats.

He takes delight in winding up the deputy Prime Minister (and Lib Dem leader) Nick Clegg, earning a rebuke from Mr Clegg for his "morbid fascination" with the death of David Cameron.

Two years after that rebuke, Mr Bone has tried to turn that fascination into law, with his Prime Minister (Replacement) Bill. This sets out an order of succession should the prime minister become incapacitated.

Mr Bone is no stranger to Wales - he once stood against Neil Kinnock in Islwyn, coming within 24,729 votes of sensationally ousting the then Labour leader. Despite his time in south Wales - he ran a travel agency in Newport - Mr Bone's proposed order of succession offers little prospect of the secretary of state for Wales making it to Downing Street.

Order of Succession

Whoever holds that post would find themselves 23rd in line to No 10 should the prime minister be unable to continue in office. To put it another way, the Welsh secretary would have to rely on the demise of, among others, non-cabinet members the attorney general and the minister of state for the cabinet office before getting the keys to No 10. He would have been 24th but the Commons authorities blocked Mr Bone's suggestion that the Speaker become third in line to the top job.

Fortunately, perhaps for David Jones, Mr Bone's Bill stands no chance of becoming law. It is unlikely even to be debated tomorrow as MPs are due to discuss - at length - another Tory MP's attempt to legislate for an EU referendum.

Mr Bone raised his limited chances of progress with Commons Leader Andrew Lansley at question time, slipping in the incentive that the Bill puts his role 20th in the order of succession.

Mr Lansley almost blushed as he briefly contemplated choosing curtains for No 10: "I wasn't aware of that possibility under the Bill and it ever so slightly changes my perception of the bill but I fear I'm probably still not entirely in favour of it, not least in how it impinges upon Her Majesty's prerogatives under the constitution."

David Cornock Article written by David Cornock David Cornock Parliamentary correspondent, Wales

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  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    #2 and #1
    Not for the first time. I blogged too soon. Four threads open at once.!
    Maybe it's like Christmas morning for six-year-olds. You open all the presents and wish that you had saved one. Maybe you could have kept this one for Friday, when the more topical threads have shut, and it's a long time 'til Tuesday.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Also, if Mr Bone's extrordinary Bill were passed by HoC [and HoL, and HM signed it], could the Supreme Court - if prompted by a suitable writ, pronounce it unconstitutional, ?
    I t would probably be least problematical to follow the Bill: HM appoints Mr Clegg @ Bone's Bill, he can't put together a working majority and resigns, and we are back to Men in Suits.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    #3 The point you make is interesting considering we have a coalition. The first person nominated is the Deputy Prime Minister. It is not at all clear that he could command a majority in the HoC. Doubtless HM would wait for the Men in Suits to announce a name who could command a majority. Otherwise we proceed to a General Election since HM Business must continue.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Mr Bone should know his constitutional law better. Only the Queen can appoint a Prime Minister or confer the 'title, salary and functions' of the post. Filling in for an incapacitated PM - the 'Ronald Reagan' provision, leaving open the question of whether he was ever 'capacitated' - might be subject to an Act, but would still need HM to agree a name.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Thanks, as ever, Boxer. No, I don't think this is the issue of the week - it's a frivolous diary item - but Nick Servini was in Scotland - do read his blog and watch his Wales Today film on the site. There's no point my duplicating his work but I will update shortly on a short debate in the Lords earlier today.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    In the week of the Scottish bill supposedly answering all the questions about independence - and bizarrely praising the neutrality of Civil Servants, some of the more senior of whom drew up this tendentious propoganda - DC feels the issue of the week is a Bill from an obscure backbencher that will never get passed, probably wn't get debated, and if it were passed would change very little.



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