MP’s column: Speaker bid to unite House of Commons in robust scrutiny

MP Sir Edward Leigh. EMN-190309-074755001
MP Sir Edward Leigh. EMN-190309-074755001

As you might have heard, I have decided to run for Speaker of the House of Commons.

This is one of the most venerable and ancient offices in our land, and while I hardly feel I am deserving of such an honour, I am driven by a great love of the Commons.

Whatever happens with the election, I continue with your help to be the MP for Gainsborough and will, as always, do my utmost to represent the people of our part of Lincolnshire who have granted me the honour of sitting for them in Westminster.

My first priority is and always will be you.

Parliament’s most important role is to hold the executive to account.

I want to be a Speaker who unites the House of Commons in robust scrutiny.

As a backbencher for the past 26 years, I want to carry on the work of prioritising ordinary MPs, especially those with outside expertise who want to ask real questions.

I’ve served on the Panel of Chairs, which helps the Speaker by chairing Bill Committees and Delegated Legislation Committees in an impartial manner.

Indeed, impartiality is central to the Speakership and recent developments have only served to remind us how important it is that the Speaker exercises his office in a calm and unbiased manner.

If elected Speaker I would be strictly impartial and deaf to any partisan influence.

I would, in quiet dignity, dress, and demeanour, model myself on the present Lord Speaker, the much-admired Norman Fowler.

The Speaker must always be scrupulously fair and polite to colleagues, speaking only to effect and briefly and submerge his personality into the role.

I would enable serious debate and speeches and encourage as many urgent questions on emerging issues as possible, but not at inordinate length at the expense of MPs making their voices heard in debates. I would be collegiate with the Deputy Speakers and look to expand their role, and to give greater prominence to select committees, having served on seven of them and chaired two.

I have long argued for the abolition of the September parliamentary sitting before the October party conference recess.

It was brought in because Labour was afraid of tabloids claiming MPs don’t work during recesses, which any constituent of mine who has met me in Lincolnshire knows isn’t the case.

It has also meant that vital repair work to the Palace of Westminster – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – has not taken place because there is not enough time to complete renovations in one go.

More locally, I’m sorry to hear that our hard-working councillor Stuart Kinch has decided to stand down as the district councillor for Torksey.

Stuart has done tremendous work over the years and his drive and determination will be missed from our district council.

Nonetheless, I am sure our councillors will continue to build on his legacy of service and common sense in delivering the best for our residents in West Lindsey.

Thank you Stuart for all your work and dedication.

Sir Edward Leigh MP

Gainsborough Constituency