It’s a fairly tedious-looking document. But today’s report by the obscure “procedure committee” for the Commons has one rather interesting recommendation:
We recommend that this House be given an opportunity to decide between the options of retaining the current procedure for re-electing a former Speaker at the start of a new Parliament or of adopting a secret ballot for deciding this question, rather than a division.
In practice what does this mean? Simple. Previously John Bercow would have been re-elected after the election via an open, visible vote (division). Now there could be a secret ballot. That, I’m told by one reliable source, means he is no longer quite so secure in his post.
You may remember that Bercow became Speaker largely because Labour MPs backed him in droves. Many of them will be gone by the summer.
The committee says there is a strong argument for the change – although it would have to be voted for in the Commons. It says:
A full election, allowing Members to choose between all would-be candidates, offers the new Parliament a fresh start with the House choosing its own Speaker. The incumbent may well have an advantage but this would not be procedurally entrenched and by moving from a vote of confidence to an open election, any former Speaker winning the ballot would gain a fresh mandate and endorsement from the House