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Speaker's anger

Nick Robinson | 17:53 UK time, Monday, 11 May 2009

The shop steward of the Commons has spoken and wasn't it telling?

Speaker Martin showed his anger not at the behaviour of MPs who have brought the Commons into disrepute but, instead, with those who criticise the way he has handled the sorry expenses saga.

Speaker Michael Martin

On a day when the prime minister joined other party leaders in apologising for MPs' behaviour, the Speaker did not.

Whilst he did speak of the need for "serious change" his passion was reserved for worrying aloud about MPs' fears - legitimate, of course - that their confidential data might have been stolen and misused.

The Speaker cannot and never could have acted alone to change the expenses system. He is a representative of MPs not their leader. He is restricted by what the political parties are prepared to countenance.

However, he is the figurehead of the Commons. During his time in the chair MPs have fought a costly and counter-productive battle to stop publication of their expenses and failed to agree reform.

Once again, voices are being raised ever so softly at Westminster about whether it is time for someone else to take his place.


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  • Comment number 1.

    This man is in no position to speak on this matter, as he is himself personally tainted by the scandal.

    He should step down, in the interests of our democracy.

    This is most unlikely, as we have seen that his interests appear to be feathering his own nest and allowing our parliamentary traditions to be eroded.

    We can see how seriously Labour take the release of expenses, in that they've got their MP Sir Stuart Bell and their chief whips trying frantically to privatise the Fees Office.


    Vote them all out.

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    And what is more eloquent of the corrupt midden that is Westminster, than that the MPs should select him as their representative?

  • Comment number 4.

    The verdict is in from the court of public opinion.

    Mr Martin has brought the post of Speaker into disrepute, his impatiallity is questionable, and his behaviour with regard to the Freedom of Information act and the results of the court case have been unacceptable.

    He should be sacked and not allowed the dignity of a resignation.

  • Comment number 5.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 6.

    Nick - I would be grateful if you could explain a few things to me, because to be honest I don't see what all the fuss is about.

    I don't see how all the reporting/comment including yours actually help the 'expense' situation or indeed reflect the truth of the situation as opposed to a scattering of facts that are never revealed in full context. I would hope that someone with your experience would understand in a journalist context the difference between 'facts' and the truth. We have had lots of facts but no truth.

    Let me explain what I mean - i am fortunate to have an ordinary but well paid job and I live in Wiltshire. If another job was advertised even one of public service or I was interested in being an MP, I would have to consider the salary before going for it. Lets say that this new job is the same salary as my current salary but there is a catch - I'm expected to say spend 1/2 the year in London and whilst travel expenses are covered it is not very attractive because I know I will need to spend many nights in London and a reasonable Hotel (with space to work and maybe a small kitchen) will cost at least 160/night - so for say 100 nights thats at least 16000/year. So not looking very attractive and that does not include other costs like laundery, food for a meal I might cook myself and other incidentals. Also I hate staying in Hotels for any lengths of time as you have to keep checking in and out and moving stuff around and its not really a good place to work or have as a base. So i would probably want to rent somewhere or maybe use some of my own money to buy somewhere as an investment (assuming prices go up!?). This will obvious all result in additional costs to me that I wouldn't have if I carried on in my present job. I would expect the net cost of all the options open to me to be at least 20,000. Everyone needs to understand this reality - every professional (who has spent time in London) in the country would say the same.

    But wait there is an allowance to reflect the inconvenience/cost of having to spend time in 2 locations of about 22,000 /year . Thats more like it but strangely rather than just pay us that we have to claim against it which is Ok but it does mean that for my colleague who through is own good fortune already has a second house in London then it will be harder for him to make use of the full allowance. This seems a little unfair - I dont see why the tax payer should benefit from the fact that someone already has a home or access to a family home in London - after all its an allowance and individuals personal circumstances should not come into play. Yes its called the 'second home allowance' but its effectively compensation for the job that requires you to operate in two locations.

    But wait its Ok the rules allow you to claim for quite a wide range of things and even flip your designated second home so that everyone has an opportunity to access the full allowance that they are entitled to regardless of circumstances. Employers should not expect employees to subsidise the job. Also if you own a second home it could go down in value substantially and we wouldn't expect the taxpayer to compensate for the loss.

    So to conclude I dont see a 'culture of greed' across Westminster. I see maybe a few MPs mainly the ones that live quite close to London to have benefited but having said that you need to draw a line somewhere as to where the London 'Allowance' kicks in and maybe it could do with moving out a bit. Its just an allowance that is part of the terms of employment and the rules require you to claim it with receipts. Personally I would like to see it just paid as a lump sum (say about 35,000 before tax) and forget about it.

    London is an expensive place and we can not and should not expect our elected MPs to pay or subsidize their own accommodation and expenses to do the job.

    Yes many constituents live in much poorer conditions but if we dont make the job financially viable then we wont get the right balance. The alternative will be conviction politicians but not necessarily very competent or the independently wealthy - which in my opinion would be a lot worse. The present system allows anyone (even professionals with well paid jobs) of whatever background or aspiration to see being an MP is a public service which is what it should be.

  • Comment number 7.

    Simple answer to the problem of MPs making money on the property market on the second home scam. They pay the difference between buying price and selling price back to the country.

    Weren't some them very keen for Fred Goodwin to pay back his pension?

    Goose, gander, sauce etc

  • Comment number 8.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 9.

    Nick, do you mean this Speaker by any chance?

    Michael Martin spent more than £1,400 on a chauffeurs in his Glasgow constituency, including journeys to the local job centre and to Celtic Park, the home of Celtic football club.

    Mr Martin's details also show that he claimed nearly £290 for a two-night stay in April 2006 at the Culloden Hall Estate and Spa, one of the finest 5-star hotels in Northern Ireland. The Culloden's website describes the hotel, on the wooded slopes of the Holywood Hills overlooking Belfast Lough as "built for a bishop... fit for a king".

    Mr Martin's expenses claims as the MP for Glasgow North East also show he claimed for the near-full food allowance on his second home during the summer holidays.

    In one year 2007-08 he charged £2,200 for his food, including £1,050 in July, August and September 2007, when for the most part MPs are not meant to be claiming on their second home.

    The Speaker also charged new "Aristocrat" carpets to the taxpayer, costing £1,834, at his constituency home in Glasgow as well as another £1,490 on the cost of redecorating a room.

    Mr Martin left the taxpayer with a Rentokil bill for nearly £3,000 and charged for a £285 rug, the claims show. He also claimed £200 for employing someone to tidy his garden and £205 for gutter cleaning.


    I can well understand why he would be angry about expenses being leaked!

  • Comment number 10.

    It is going to be difficult to prove that the information was not in the public interest because it most definately is.

    No personal information has been published and the newspaper in question has catagorically stated it will not publish it.

    So what can the police investigate?

    Have the speaker's expenses been published yet? But surely he will have learnt his lesson from previous revelations. Or perhaps not.

    I must say I've never seen him act in such an anxious and panicky way before. Totally out of order for someone who's supposed to keep it.

  • Comment number 11.

    I couldn't believe my ears- that speaker Martin berating Kate archaic- Martin demonstrates just how out of touch Westminster is- his attitude was more suited to a private scholl- he seemed irate that someone should point out the glaringly obvious, that the person who indeed 'leaked' these details wouldn't have had to 'leak' them if they had been published on time last October...the truth will eventually come out and I'm sure that Martin has claimed his full 'allowances' all essential to enable him to do his job! (wishful thinking that any of that lot could do a full days work)

  • Comment number 12.

    That is typical of the speaker of the house!
    Never mind that some of MPs claims could be fraudulent, go for whistleblower!
    If it wasn't for the Daily Telegraph obtaining this information we would have never known the gravy train that is so loved by some of the MPs. Shame on you Mr Speaker! We certainly know which side you are on.
    We shouldn't be surprised, after all you also enjoy the champagne lifestyle at the expense of the taxpayer!

  • Comment number 13.

    Mr. Speaker Martin was a blatant political appointment from the word `go' in 1997. According to tradition a Tory was due to become Speaker but since it was by then Blair's Britain tradition had to be cast aside as a matter of principle. You know the sort of guy Tony was then? He would never mislead anyone, would he?

    Mr. Speaker Martin has presided over and participated in the scandalous affair of parliamentary expenses. He could have stamped on the waste of taxpayer funds that was going on in the name of Members' expenses. He chose not to and instead allowed greed to take over the judgement of Parliament.

    Mr. Speaker Martin has an interesting relationship with the constabulary. He failed to stop the police raiding Damien Green's office. He blamed his recently appointed Sergeant of Arms for this failure but he appointed her. Now that a member of his own staff have joined the members at the trough, he cries `stop thief'. What sort of man is Mr Speaker Martin? Does he think that the servants should know their place?

    The principle requirement for any Speaker is that he enhances the diginity and the honour of Parliament. The period in which Mr. Speaker Martin has presided over Parliament has been the most squalid period in the history of that institution.

    Now, Nick you tells us that soft voices are asking that he should step down. How about a loud voice from the streets? Martin must go so that any change can be seen as real.

    Martin must go, Brown must go; let's clean out the entire stable!

    Major Pride where are you? We need you this day.

  • Comment number 14.

    Time to go. The speaker and this parliament.

  • Comment number 15.

    Speaker Martins never been up to the job anyway & should of gone long ago.
    Like a senior church figure that tries to hide abuse, he is more concerned about the public perception of Parliament than the wrong doing that is going on.
    Yes, lets find the whistle blower & blame him / her, even though the truth would of come out anyway in a few months.
    Quite a few MPs where hoping for a little more breathing space to formulate their excuses, but it was not to be.

    So he wants to get the Police involved?
    Surely the Inland Revenue would be a far better bet.

    Time to say farewell Old Boy; your stewardship has been mediocre to say the least.

  • Comment number 16.

    Am I allowed to swear on the BBC blogs as to how appalling it is that this loony is still in place? Are the no honorable members left willing to remove someone who is willing to lecture MPs who question deceitful practices when he is the one covered in dirt?

    Humility is a virtue Mr. Speaker.

  • Comment number 17.

    Shame on the Speaker; Martin has showed how out of touch he is with public anger over this. I think it's time for the option "none of the above" to be put on ballot papers.

  • Comment number 18.

    Nick -- I watched Michael Martin's performance this afternoon. He is an absolute disgrace and should be replaced immediately. How professional is it for a grown man to state that he is "very grumpy" today. He can't seem to manage to string a sentence together despite reading from a script.
    To then state there is a need for serious change when in fact he is one of the worst examples of expense abuse. Of course he is annoyed -- like a lot of members of the house -- because they have been exposed and found out.It is also worth reminding everyone that in 2003 the Chancellor [Gordon Brown] changed HMRC ruling to exempt MPs expenses from being seen as taxable benefits. Another one of his stealth moves to protect his greedy team.
    Isn't it time for the Queen to do the honourable thing and dissolve parliament -- the people of this country are tired of Brown and his crew. It is definitely time for a clean sweep and change.
    PS - Hope you noted that the Telegraph reported that David Cameron and William Hague submitted some of the "cleanest and uncomplicated" claims.

  • Comment number 19.

    Nick, for once I agree with you. Additionally, it was not Brown's duty to speak for the House. He is leader of the Labour Party, (a moot point), and should have confined his remarks to his own. If anyone can apologise for the Commons, it is the Speaker - and then only after he has the agreement of the majority.

  • Comment number 20.

    Nick posted - "Once again, voices are being raised ever so softly at Westminster about whether it is time for someone else to take his place".

    It's about time voices were raised rather loudly about whether it is time for someone else to take his place. The Speaker is responsible ensuring that the rules of the House are obeyed, not twisted and abused for personal gain (not that he's ever done anything like that at all).

    The Speaker must always always act impartially (not that he's ever done anything like that at all).

    Anybody got any suggestions for a date to protest outside Parliament to demand an election? I assume we're still allowed to do that.

  • Comment number 21.

    From the press coverage of the Speaker's own enjoyment of the "perks" at his disposal it is hardly surprising that he is upset. No one has fought harder to protect Member's expenses from being publicised. He has been rumbled. Isn't there a Parliamentary equivalent of bringing the "Service" into disrepute that the Speaker can be charged with. He needs to go, those soft voices need to start shouting.

  • Comment number 22.

    Michael Martin is a disgrace and part of the problem.

    All reasonable people should head over to Douglas Carswell MP blog and leave a message of support in his attempt to have Michael Martin removed.

  • Comment number 23.

    Quote "During his time in the chair MPs have fought a costly and counter-productive battle to stop publication of their expenses and failed to agree reform."

    We must assume therefore that Mr Speaker knew exactly what was going on and is therefore culpable.

    Like many of the MPs he should be given the opportunity to put forward the reasons for his conduct over this whole debacle; but somehow I don`t think he will.

    This man has no integrity and should profer his resgination forth-with.

    The only way all of this is going to be resolved is for the country to have a general election. Unfortunately Gordon Brown`s ego will not allow that to happen until 2010. The country will therefore be in a state of limbo. Parliament may as well rise now because the british public (of all political persuasions) has no time for the current lot of, "I am alright Jack MPs."

    We have been lectured up hill and down dale about prudence, tightening our belts, the recession was global and nothing to do with us, I am feeling your pain etc etc and yet these well heeled MPs have been building up property folios making them emensley wealthy on the backs of people, many of whom earn far less than MP`s annual second home allowance.

    Wait until the June elections. Payback time. All the main parties are in for some shocks.

  • Comment number 24.

    This current speaker has been a disaster, and this latest episode confirms the point. He has consistently favoured the ruling party, and now the ruling party are in deep trouble so is he. In addition, his rather liberal approach to managing his own expenses (exorbitant taxi fares for his wife for example) have compromised his position in this discussion. He is not in a position to preside and should go too (along with his Master, Mr Brown).

  • Comment number 25.

    Listening to the Speaker's statement I now realize its all the medias fault. Mr Martins concern is that a few personal details of MPs might be revealed. Where was he when the millions of details belonging to the Public went missing?

    This man is the biggest humbug in UK politics (closely followed by Keith Vaz) He is the one whose department thought nothing of allowing the police to enter and search a MPs office.

    When people say "they don't get it" I think of Speaker Martin.

    His mates in the Metropolitan Police will now rush to find the mole before more addresses are revealed

  • Comment number 26.

    Another one well overdue for departure. Is there no end to the list of politicians unable to grasp the mood of the people they represent?

  • Comment number 27.

    Anger, I listened to a few comments in parliament today.

    These people are beyond belief.
    None of them have any regret for what they have done.
    The only regret is that they got caught.

    Let me just say one thing, Parliament is only as powerful as the people of the country allow it to be.

    If these so called representatives in parliament want a modern revolution where anarchy will exist on the streets then they must carry on in this current fashion.

    If for one minute they think the British people will stand for this utter contempt that they hold for us, the very people who pay their wages then they are very much mistaken.

    Perhaps 2-3 years ago there would not be such anger, but in a time where people are struggling for their very survival only to see their MP's claiming thousands through abusing their position is too much to stomach for anyone.

    Speaker Martin is simply not in touch with reality, he should be removed from office immediately.

    Public seravnts must be accountable especially MP's.

    Of all civil servants who currently work in the Public sector, MP's are the only bunch who are not monitored on their performance.

    ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 28.

    How do we get rid of this man. He seems so unbelievably out of touch with the people he is meant to represent. Does he really not comprehend the amount of public anger over this issue?

  • Comment number 29.

    Absolutely outrageous, the MP's have just been abusing the system and milking the tax payers for every penny they could. Do MP's have a clue about reall life and the daily struggles of normal people, no they are clueless. They bail out the banks with billions of pounds of our money to help their buddies and themselves who are rich enough to be able to afford shares, and do nothing to help normal people who are loosing their jobs.
    Whay is the Tax Man not involved in this, I am sure if my company stated paying for my tennis court water pipe to be fixed or my lawnmower to be repaired I would be taxed on it.
    MP's you outght to be ashamed

  • Comment number 30.

    While the majority of the public are struggling to pay their way, care for their families, keep their homes and save for their futures, children are being abused, people are dying in unclean hospitals, non-achievers are being rewarded with enormous golden-handshakes and pensions and banks have messed up. Now we are assailed by the grotesque expenses system that prevails in government.

    So-called honorable members are volunteers, not individuals head-hunted for their attributes. We have all had to live near our places of work, or commute, usually at our own expense. What makes MPs so special? They should not be able to make profits and acquire benefits via their expenses accounts. If they need help to pay interest on a mortgage, then they should pay it back once they are in a position to do so! With little exception, everyone else trying to buy a house, furnish it or run it has to do it out of his/her own pocket. Why cant they do the same? They are servants of the people who elected them.

    The Speaker should think twice before opening his mouth and stating that the person who leaked the details of MPs expenses claims should be found and brought to task. Who knows how long breaches by public servants would continue, if it werent for whistle-blowers. This country is struggling to keep its head above water and all public expenditure should be closely scrutinised by independent parties. Human nature will prevail and self-scrutiny cannot work. The NHS, Social Services, Police Forces and Parliament are just four areas where glaring errors in performance and abuse of privilege have come to light all need radical overhauls, without recourse to the establishment of yet more expensive quangos/departments.

    The public isnt just angry its FURIOUS!

    Thank Goodness for Freedom of Speech and the Media - this country would surely founder without their eyes and ears.

  • Comment number 31.

    This venal, appalling man should never have been appointed to the Speaker's chair. He is a walking insult to democracy and a disgrace to the position of honour that he occupies. Please respond to this comment if you can think of a single thing that he has done or said that upholds or protects democracy and good government. I cannot.

  • Comment number 32.

    Michael Martin apparently would rather shoot the messenger than deal with the problem. If the Speaker cannot understand the depths of disgust felt by the electorate I fear there is little chance for our democracy.

    The checks and balances that have served this country for generations seem to have been ditched by self serving individuals in all parties, who care more for themselves than the country.

  • Comment number 33.

    I've only read the account, not watched it, but Speaker Martin's attack on Labour MP Kate Hoey was personal, vindictive, and disgraceful.

    This nonenity was put in place to be a tool of the Labour Party rather than of Parliament, and in this at least he has been successful, repeatedly shielding the Executive from opposition and back-bench attacks.

    He is definitely challenging Margaret 3 homes Moran (Labour MP for Luton South) for the title of most dishonourable member of the House.

    By the way, we had excellent ex-Labour speakers before Martin. The problem was that the new generation of Labour MPs elected in 1997 had no interest in electing a honourable man or woman for the job. In Nick's words, they wanted a shop steward, with all the pro-Labour tribal bias that that designation implies.

  • Comment number 34.

    I watched this joke of a man on Parliament TV.

    His treatment of Kate Hoey and Norman Baker was contemptible.

    He is completely unfit to hold this office, is biased and has a very questionable expenses history himself.

    He's a bad joke. Kick the git out and send him off to Edinburgh. Glasgow doesn't want him back.

  • Comment number 35.

    This Speaker is a national disaster.

  • Comment number 36.

    TO HRM Queen Elizabeth II

    Please I beg you as a loyal subject of this once great nation please intervene on the behalf of your loyal citizens and end this era of greed and corruption. We need to be able to draw a line under this whole episode and move forward with confidence. The only way to achieve this is for you to dissolve parliament and order a full audit of the countries finances.
    Its time for you to prove your un-doubted worth to the nation, be bold be strong be true to your people help us in our hour of need. If you act we will support you.

    Love and Loyalty


  • Comment number 37.

    I didn't think my opinion of the House of Commons could get any lower; then I heard Speaker Martin's comments. With this odious little man as their speaker, no wonder so few MPs are capable of telling right from wrong.

  • Comment number 38.


    You seem to have scented the public mood in your last couple of articles. The angry public mood extends to journalists, especially those of the lobby.

    We expect MP's and especially the government of the day to be properly challenged by the media. For 12 years we have had 'news by government press release'.

    Michael Martin has not cottoned on to the public mood. I hope that you and other journalists realise that times have changed. Ministers should not be allowed to talk out of their ar5e5 in interviews any more.

  • Comment number 39.

    Martin is obviously a supporter of the "Kill the Messenger" school.

  • Comment number 40.

    what is wrong with the leaders of our country, do they think we are stupid?!

    this hypocrite who ferried his wife around in taxis has been milking the system in the same way all the others who've been named and shamed have.

    does he seriously think that if he shouts loud enough about the spirit of the expenses system not being followed, that the country will somehow forget that he is equally as guilty?!

    shame on you mr. martin, you're an insult to all the members of this democracy.

    i for one would very much like to never see your face as part of my government again. i pray you fail miserably when attempting to regain your seat - as you will no doubt have the audacity to put yourself forward to ride the gravy train once again.

  • Comment number 41.

    Examples. Examples. Examples.

    A society stands or falls by examples.

  • Comment number 42.

    The speaker does not realise that parliments reputation is in the gutter. The public are disgusted how our elected representatives have and continue to behave. The continual utterances by members of all parties that the system is wrong. is simply unbelievable. Actually, no, it is their moral compass that is wrong. I very much doubt that if anyone should appear in court re the 'leaking' of these details that a convictionwould result, no jury would return a verdict of guilty, no matter how they put it.

    This matter of abuse of the expenses has gone on for too long and our MPs had only one concern, preventing the public access to the information. They are despicable. Now that the details are being published they want it all out in the open quickly to save themselves. There is the suggestion that when a new system is in place they want to keep the details secret again. They just do not get it, NO, why should they be able to hide such information from those who pay the bill. We know that they are totall untrustworthy.

  • Comment number 43.

    I just hope that tradition will be shelved come the next election and this poor excuse for a speaker will be voted out of parliament where he has presided over more sleaze than any speaker since before Cromwell. Calling in the police should have been to investigate the theft of taxpayers' money by MPs , not to find the source of the leak. This is typical of this parliament, showing no contrition, and displaying only anger at being caught in the act of immorally filling their pockets. The only cure for their disgraceful behaviour is a general election, where the people in their present mood will remove those who could not keep their snouts out of the trough.

  • Comment number 44.

    Commentts 5-35 still awaiting moderation whilst #38 has gotten through. It is now 6:54, and I ask "Are they all naughty!"

  • Comment number 45.

    If the concept of the 'honourable member' is dead, then so is democracy in this country. Our politics cannot be left to the likes of Nick Griffin and the BNP, and nor must they be left to a spivvy and cynical set of corrupt officials, only interested in grabbing the best seats on the gravy train.
    As for the present House of Commons, and its egregious Speaker, in Oliver Cromwell's words to the Rump Parliament in 1653, 'You have sat too long for any good you have been doing...In the name of God, go!'

  • Comment number 46.

    Utterly unbelievable!
    Speaker Martin lives in a different stratosphere to the vast majority of UKs honest taxpayers.
    Speaker Martin should be removed from his post immediately, he appears to display no judgement other than the protection of corruption!
    Did WE the electorate elected Speaker Martin to represent any of us? No!
    Did WE the electorate charge Speaker Martin with the decision to block finding of corruption and abuse of office to the tune of £100,000 plus? WE think not!
    Speaker Martin simply demonstrates the lack of judgement, honesty, common decency and leadership displayed at all levels!
    May I remind MPs and Speaker Martin that they have never been above the law! Or maybe we got it wrong and they indeed are?
    How pompous, arrongant, conceited, concendescending, overbearing, lordly and corrupt Speaker Martin is proving to be!
    I wonder when was the last time Speaker Martin earned a honest decent wage? Obviously Speaker Martin has forgotten were all the wasted money comes from - US the TAXPAYERS!

  • Comment number 47.

    Michael Martin says expense claims should reflect 'the spirit of what is right'
    Pot, kettle????

  • Comment number 48.

    Honestly, the Speaker should realise the honourable thing to do is to now stand down, is record is not above repute, rather it is tarnished beyond repair.

  • Comment number 49.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 50.

    It must be very tiresome to have to respond to a load of impertinent accusations, so the Speaker's 'anger' is not unexpected.

    In the past, the Speaker himself has been criticised over expenses in the press, including Sunday Mirror, The Times and The Guardian as well as the BBC.

  • Comment number 51.

    Thos softly spoken voices need to change into a clamour and fast. This disgraceful set of circumstances is indefensible. Thw Whistleblower has done the right thing (and let's not forget the efforts taken by this House to defend the rights of whistleblowers)

    MPs of all shades have been stretching their allowances to the very edges and beyond, just becuase they could. There's very few from what I can tell that would be able to stand up with any decency and say "I did the right thing and acted with the interests of the state at heart"

    The Speaker should cover himself with humility and encourage a solution to this ASAP, not threaten whistleblowers and try to detract attention from the serious greed and dishonesty displayed under his (and previous Speakers' watches.

    This issue is shameful to English politics and there needs to be a reckoning amongst MPs and fast.

  • Comment number 52.

    Time for a new system (and not just for expenses)?

    The archaic Westminster parliamentary system is in despearate need of a revamp.

    The people are sovereign, not parliament and the politicians!

  • Comment number 53.

    oh dearie me ... yet another male "of a certain type" is exposed as distinctly sub-optimal ... verging on useless, even ... what a big surprise ... when oh when oh when are we going to see the light? ... responsible positions like these should be viewed very much like Barry Manilow concerts ... Women Only zones

  • Comment number 54.

    The Speaker - huh - I cant understand a word he speaks, and it seems the novelty of having taxis on the streets of this city and cars with drivers on hand is such a novelty it has quite honestly gone to his silly old head. Out with him and the government. I've never known a more biased or less capable Speaker. A disgrace to the position. Bring back Betty B, fondly remember Bernard W. : Noble souls, opposite parties, working backgrounds both. Above all HONEST and dignified in the job.
    ELECTION NOW. Vote of NO confidence in this government was never less contentious. Bring it on.

  • Comment number 55.

    This speaker is an idiot, but says it all about the state of our political establishment.

    Thanks Tony Blair. This is the result of your 10 years of power.

  • Comment number 56.

    Speaker Martin's anger was fuelled by that potent additive - sour grapes.

    Having been found to have his and his wife's fingers in the till 3 years back, it is little wonder that his attitude to the present revelations is anything but "mea culpa".

    Martin's financial fiddling was exposed before all "the freedom of information" bandwagon started rolling.

    He of all MP's should resign. No doubt he will be allowed to retire gracefully at the next Westminster, instead of receiving the boot that he probably deserves.

  • Comment number 57.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 58.

    Michael Martin is a disgrace to the office of Speaker. His own complicity in the manipulation of the expenses system and his frantic attempts, again at taxpayers expense , to block publication of MPs' expenses show him to be unworthy of public office. His performance in the Commons today shows he still does not appreciate the riducule he is bringing upon himself and Parliament and the contempt in which they are now held by the public at large. If the system prevents him being sacked either the the system should be changed immediately or the Queen, the Prime Minister, or the Commons as a whole, should force him to recognise the disrepute he is bringing upon them all and pressure him to resign, without the offer of a peerage.

  • Comment number 59.

    To be a politican it would help if one had a grasp of politics. Sadly none of this lot do. I come back to the recent plead of we must appear more human by Blears. 'Appear' being the key word, not 'be'.

  • Comment number 60.

    I read the Speaker's statement and other comments with my mouth open in astonishment. Rarely does a man miss the point so thoroughly or tellingly.

  • Comment number 61.

    Perhaps Mr Martin should get his nose out of the trough so he can smell the coffee.

    One further word...


  • Comment number 62.

    I think that the response of the House Of Commons is a disgrace. To immediately look to expose the mole rather than be thinking about putting their own house in order is a travesty, and only shows just how much contempt they have for the British public. How the information got out to us is inconsequential. The fact is, the British public finance these freeloaders, and we're fully entitled to find out what our taxes go towards! We pay the bills, and the problem with our government is that they seem to have forgotten that THEY work for US, and not the other way around.

    Michael Martin and those shamed by the Telegraph are only annoyed that this information was made public before their spin doctors managed to concoct a suitable smokescreen to hide it behind, or some bad news to "bury" it amongst.

    But the choice to call in the police, and spend further thousands of taxpayer pounds to investigate someone releasing OUR information to us is a disgrace. The British public needs to hit the House Of Commons where it hurts, and refuse to turn out at the next election.

  • Comment number 63.

    He's a disgrace. The worst Speaker in many many years.

  • Comment number 64.

    Nick, you say of the Speaker, "Once again, voices are being raised ever so softly at Westminster about whether it is time for someone else to take his place."

    They should have seen this coming. This man has no respect for Parliamentary tradition. He won't even wear his wig.

  • Comment number 65.

    #53 sagamix wrote:
    Women Only zones

    Hazel Blears and Margaret 3 homes Moran perhaps. Whiter than White.

    Betty Boothroyd was a good Speaker though (as were the men before her)

  • Comment number 66.

    49. At 6:59pm on 11 May 2009, jomforest Billys gonna gerrem wrote:
    Nick nicely put I'll tell you what though I will have a bet that the Telegraph shortly Publish the full expenses of this apology of a Speaker.

    That's what Gorbals is angry about, he is up to his neck in it


    They did at the weekend, see my post #9 above.

  • Comment number 67.

    A few weeks ago, a man who had worked all his life and put money in to trust for his retirement made a big, no massive error of judgement. Rightly he resigned. A large number of MP's cried out for him to return or at least reduce his pension, "on moral grounds".

    These same people are now saying that the second home claims were within the rules. I'm just waiting for Sir Fred to call out for them all to repay these immoral claims which, if added together could well pay for his pension.

  • Comment number 68.


    I've just seen the the first televised political suicide on the news this evening over this outrage.

    Speaker Martin truly is an idiot.

    I've already collected some rotten eggs and tomatoes in a big I'm off to Westminster...just watch me pelt those spivs with them on telly tonight.

    Unless, that is, I'm arrested on anti-terrorist charges beforehand.

  • Comment number 69.

    Krizzab #58 did you fall asleep on your carriage return button by any chance? Sarantium #6 and deny the media their chance to spread discord? Absurd!

  • Comment number 70.

    "Once again, voices are being raised ever so softly at Westminster about whether it is time for someone else to take his place. "

    Careful, Nick, or you will have Carter-*uck and Partners on your case...

    The man is an incompetent buffoon, in my opinion, and needs to be dumped - pronto. But who will stick the knife in ? Hoey ? Carswell ?

  • Comment number 71.

    Though the entire episode is pretty awful, it seems a bit rich to vilify the representative of MPs for not meekly apologising when it is quite clear that many of the MPs involved, rightly or wrongly, have no sense that they have done anything wrong.

    The Telegraph have masterfully played their hand; They have created a media storm to ramp up their circulation whilst simultaneously forcing the Conservative Party to look at them seriously before the 2010 election. In the process they have further damaged the Government, despite the most outrageous claims being from Cameron's front bench, and they have sucked up to Cameron (see today's Telegraph).

    Their only miscalculation may be that often seen in the media - playing to heavily on public fears and cynicism and therefore further damaging confidence in a system which has already recognised the need for change.

    Unfortunately the most serious problems at the Commons are being ignored in this crisis: Can an MP properly represent the interests of his constituency or the country whilst holding down a second job at a multinational firm?

  • Comment number 72.

    Mr Martin

    Resign you disgusting creature and go back to underneath the stone under which you were nurtured and take your government with you

    You were the poodle of the BLIAR as indeed you are the same of Brown and his government

  • Comment number 73.

    Michael Martin conducted himself after his statement in an apalling way, with snide remarks to MPs and barely contained anger.

    This from a man who has been just as deeply into the trough as all the other piggies, with his taxpayer-funded foreign trips. Whats not clear is why he was angry. Is it because the gravy train is coming to an end?

    I can see no other option for Parliament now than its dissolution.

    We need a new broom swept through the house and a clear mandate to curb the excesses of the current allowance system. Without that, the incumbent MPs will fight tooth and nail to avoid being called to account for what has been going on and won't vote in reforming legislation.

    Call and immediate election.

    Everyone should sign this e-petition at No10 calling for an immediate election:

    Nick, maybe you could research whether a petition to her Majesty would empower her to remove this rotten Parliament we have now? Or at the very least, what options do us ordinary people have for shedding ourselves of the whole sorry shower.

  • Comment number 74.

    By convention, the Speaker is elected unopposed by the major three parties (which incidentally can leave an entire constituency effectively disenfranchised). What better way to demonstrate that, whatever MPs may think, the people are less than satisfied with him were the SNP, who are not bound by the convention, to field a candidate and beat him at the next available opportunity.

  • Comment number 75.

    Michael Martin has made a mockery of the position of Speaker in the house of Commons

    Your use of language does not do him justice

    There have been open calls for him to resign and these seem to be growing

    Now that his idea to put the expenses into a private outside body to try to avoid FoI has been forestalled by Brown, maybe he is beginning to realise that his time is up...maybe Brown is too

    Certainly we're no longer hearing about him wanting another term.

    If the tax payer could do one thing, maybe we could club together and send him, together with his wife, to some sunny clime (one way) and remove his pension or buy him a taxi cab

  • Comment number 76.

    I'm exhausted. I don't which is the greater disaster: the UK economy or UK politics? How come, after 12 years of Labour rule, both are in such an unprecedented mess? I thought Brown was the harbinger of no more boom and bust, Blair was the great political reformer and Balls worked the levers from behind? From where I am, it looks like the "B Cubed" (Blair/Brown/Balls) style of government has been a spectacular failure.

    Dissolve Parliament. Call a General Election. Let's clear out and start again. Soon.

  • Comment number 77.

    #6 analysis is missing the element of post-MP-ship. The MP afterlife perks are equally breathtaking. That's why the job is so attractive. Many sitting members are excellent but look now to be in the minority

  • Comment number 78.

    The Speaker's rage about the leak, criminal as it quite possibly was, is totally impotent because he is unable to claim the moral high ground.

    And therein lies the tragedy of this whole situation...

    If our leaders can't fight injustice and wrong from a position of moral superiority then we're all DOOMED I tell ye, DOOMED.

  • Comment number 79.

    sarantium, that was a wonderful post.

  • Comment number 80.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 81.

    The Man should come out of the cloud cuckoo land that he obviously lives in and join the human race to see what all his fellow rogues have been up to rules or no rules. This offends the majority of the voting public, with whom he seems so out of touch. Perhaps he should also read "Animal Farm" if he hasn,t already done so. It would seem to sum up the current situation beautifully

  • Comment number 82.

    It seems that Mr Martin (and other notables, including Hazel Blears) may benefit from an urgent medical check-up. Away with the Fairies, perhaps?

  • Comment number 83.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 84.


  • Comment number 85.

    fed up @ 549

    I have come to the conclusion that you probably blog tongue in cheek just to gain reaction, devils advocate

    I aim for a bit of a mixture ... trouble is, oftentimes, people think I'm being serious when I'm not, and being flippant when I'm being deadly serious ... which is all very excellent!

  • Comment number 86.

    There was a piece in the Mail on Sunday about the Speaker. It concerned the head of the fees office, Mr Walker. I inclkude the relevant part

    "Andrew Walker, who runs the Commons Fees Office responsible for MPs' wages and expenses, told Speaker Michael Martin more than five years ago that he must act to curb excessive claims.

    But Westminster sources say the Speaker told him not to meddle, and 'punished' him by refusing to speak to him for weeks at a time.
    Andrew Walker

    It is understood that Mr Walker felt he could be dismissed from his £125,000-a-year job as director general of resources at the Commons after issuing the warning.

    Now friends say he has been made a 'scapegoat' by MPs who have justified scandalous expense claims on the grounds that Mr Walker approved them."

    If this is the case, and I am not saying it is, Mr Speaker (or Mr Angry as he now is) may have been 'spooked' by the report and may be trying to protect himself. It will be interesting to see what the Telgraph says about him.

    From my viewpoint Mr Martin's position is untenable, but this government is position is probably safe as houses as Brown needs some friends.

  • Comment number 87.

    This is the government that wants us to believe our personal data (ID Cards, DNA, etc.) is safe in their hands, yet they can't even keep their own personal data safe.

    They are a joke.

  • Comment number 88.

    Speaker Martin has lost an shred of integrity he may have had by not coming out and reprimanding MPs for their horrendus abuse of the allowance system in the sternest possible way.

    He needs to go and go now.

  • Comment number 89.

    elms @ 57 ... and many other (yawn) references to Animal Farm

    what are you driving at with this stuff? ... that Martin is worse because he's Labour and working class? ... that the same behaviour would be less reprehensible in a Clown or a Toffee Apple?


  • Comment number 90.

    My message is to the Queen of our United Kingdom and her family

    The time has come for you to call an end to all this, sadly, it may destroy the Monarchy but what a truly honourable way to go. Honour is something this administration has lacked from day one.

    Please, take the lead and call an election above the heads of this shambolic and dishonest government

    In the past twelve years we all suffered downright lies from the BLIAR, Brown and their wretched, nasty little party of third rate politicians.

    There is now total corruptuion on which all of us must choke, the final insult. They have reduced our nation to the lowest point in our history

    As a Royalist there is know doubt in my mind that the House of Windsor must act now to save Britain no matter the consequences.

    These criminals have served themselves for far too long.

  • Comment number 91.

    Seems like Lord Turdoch of diggerland has missed the boat on this one, maybe he should put the gorbals grabber onto page three beside the other t**s!

  • Comment number 92.

    The Speaker has made a colossal faux pas in his statement, totally misjudging the public mood and the national interest. It is in the interest of all of us that the expenses and pay of our representatives is exposed fully. It is in the interest of all of us that the rules for this system are written independently. It is in the interest of all of us that this current political culture of responsibility-dodging is ended permanently.

    Sunlight is the strongest antiseptic, they say. In that case, MPs this last week have been given rather nasty sunburn on their otherwise pasty skin.

  • Comment number 93.

    71. At 7:28pm on 11 May 2009, Dayvine wrote:

    ...Unfortunately the most serious problems at the Commons are being ignored in this crisis: Can an MP properly represent the interests of his constituency or the country whilst holding down a second job at a multinational firm?


    Or put it another way, can an MP properly represent the interests of his constituency or the country whilst holding down a second job as a government minister?

    Same difference, either the job of being constituency MP is a full-time job or it isn't. If it isn't as clearly evidenced by constituency MPs doubling up as government ministers, then there is no practical difference to any other MP also having a second job.

  • Comment number 94.

    This whole situation is a disgrace.

    These politicians are no better than the bankers, who were recently being critisised.

    The money they are using to fund their grandiose lifestyles is our money!

    If this was going on in a public or private sector organisation, there would be a fraud investigation.

  • Comment number 95.

    For me, the saddest part of the MPs' expenses row is that if it was commonly known that MPs receive "guaranteed bonuses" of 300% of salary irrespective of performance then many other more qualified people would have stood for election.

    I say abolish the expenses.

    Buy up a few blocks of flats in Westminster at depressed prices for use by MPs whilst they are MPs and have them managed as serviced apartments. That way any refurbishment of kitchens or supply of plasma screens is not for the benefit of the MP in situ but for the State.

    So extend the provision of tied homes from The Prime Minister and Chancellor and a few others to all MPs.

    Their constituency homes should not be funded at all. They represent their constituencies so should be from the constituency and have a home there anyway.

    Warren EDWARDES

  • Comment number 96.

    For goodness sake !! Is there anyone out there who did'nt know that we are
    Governed by any thing other than "Self- Seekers" ? There ARE some amongst them that are genuine hard working individuals who do their best for us--but-- !!!!
    1)--Pay them an agreed Salary.
    2)--Let them do what other employees have to do-i.e.Hotel/Apart./B&
    an agreed "Norm" rate. If they "rough-it" let them have the difference as
    extra.(like Lorry Drivers )
    3)-- Publish ALL reciepts--after all--WE pay them and as Employers--we
    we are ENTITLED to hold them accountable.

  • Comment number 97.

    I don't believe Michael Martin is in any position to talk about MPs expenses judging by his own record:

  • Comment number 98.

    They really do not get it do they? The Speaker's hissy-fit may impress his colleagues in the House but it is about as counterfeit as the explanations we've been given to justify the behaviour of many MPs. Speaker Martin, if you wish to hear and see some real anger trot out of the Parliamentary bunker and visit some real people.
    We can not expect this lot to do what is necessary now to re-establish honour and credibility to our public life and resign. But as someone has already pointed out this Parliament and this Government depend upon both the electorate and the Monarch for legitimacy. So let's petition Her Majesty to take the action necessary. Dissolve this Parliament, call for new elections and let the people decide. If the MPs' defences are so compelling let them put them direct to their constituents.

  • Comment number 99.

    The Speaker is a symbol - a symbol of all that is wrong with our present government. What he doesn't seem to understand is that the real crime is not the leak but the face in the trough of public benefits of Cabinet Ministers and other MPs. I agree wholeheartedly with WEP, PLEASE HRH Queen Elizabeth intervene and dissolve this shame of a government and call for free and open elections.

  • Comment number 100.

    Dear Nick,

    Old Baubles Mick is angry because he can see he has no job in a few weeks time and is trying to protect himself anyway he can.

    The old man has be busted good and proper, not bad for someone who is only there to take all that is owed to him!

    Roll on June..!


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