Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
MPs turn on Speaker over expenses scandal -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

PETER CAVE: There's been a stormy session in Britain's House of Commons as some MPs tried to oust
the Speaker - an unprecedented move in modern day UK politics.

The angry MPs blame the Speaker for the embarrassing expenses scandal that's consumed British
politics for the past week.

They argue it was the Speaker who stopped attempts to make the system more accountable.

Stephanie Kennedy reports from London.

STEPHANIE KENNEDY: Not since 1695 has a speaker of the House of Commons lost his job.

Three-hundred-and-fourteen years later and the current Speaker Michael Martin is facing a similar
fate as he fights for his political life.

As Speaker he's responsible for MP's expenses - and for 10 days, details of those claims have been
plastered across the media.

Taxpayers have discovered they've footed the bill for moats, renovations, mortgages - even horse

MPs blame the Speaker for blocking reform on expenses and for attacking those that pressed for more

In Parliament, the speaker tried to diffuse the situation with this mea culpa.

MICHAEL MARTIN: Please allow me to say to the men and women of the United Kingdom that we have let
you down very badly indeed. We must all accept blame. And to that extent that I have contributed to
this situation, I am profoundly sorry.

STEPHANIE KENNEDY: But that was not enough for some MPs, who challenged the Speaker to stand down.

The Conservatives' Douglas Carswell.

DOUGLAS CARSWELL: When will members be allowed to choose a new Speaker, with the moral authority to
clean up Westminster and the legitimacy to lift this house out of the mire?

(Sound of booing)

STEPHANIE KENNEDY: Labour's David Winnick.

DAVID WINNICK: If you gave some indication of your own intention to retire. Your early retirement,
sir, would help the reputation of the House.

STEPHANIE KENNEDY: The Liberal Democrats' David Heath.

DAVID HEATH: I have very grave doubts, given the appalling situation we find ourselves in, this
midden of the House's own making, that any action taken by members of this House will actually
restore the trust that we need.

STEPHANIE KENNEDY: In an unprecedented move, a party leader - the Liberal Democrat's Nick Clegg -
undermined the Speaker's authority by calling for him to step down.

NICK CLEGG: The Speaker must go. He has proved himself over some time now to be a dogged defender
of the way things are, of the status quo. When what we need very urgently is someone at the heart
of Westminster who will lead a wholesale radical process of reform.

STEPHANIE KENNEDY: And significantly, the Prime Minister Gordon Brown declined to give Mr Martin
his backing, declaring the Speaker's fate was now in the hands of MPs.

The Conservative position also hardened, with leader David Cameron demanding the immediate
dissolution of Parliament to clear the way for a general election.

Some observers believe the Speaker signed his own political death warrant with his inability to
acknowledge his part in the expenses scandal.

In London this is Stephanie Kennedy reporting for AM.