13 March 2012
One of the highest-ranking officials in the United Kingdom — the Speaker of the House of Commons — will be talking about the reform of the Commons to staff and students at the University of Bristol this week [15 March].
The talk, given by the Rt Hon John Bercow, MP and hosted by the University’s Faculty of Social Sciences and Law, will provide a rare opportunity to discuss a number of issues relating to Parliament’s work.
Since his appointment in 2009, Mr Bercow has been credited for helping to transform the House of Commons. As an advocate for public engagement, John has brought about many positive changes to a role that requires political impartiality at all times. This includes frequent attendance by Ministers to address ‘Urgent Questions’, a procedure which allows Members of Parliament to ask the Speaker to summon a minister to the House to respond to an urgent matter of public importance.
Mr Bercow, who is committed to promoting engagement with Parliament and speaks with groups around the UK on an ongoing basis, said: “I am very much looking forward to my visit to Bristol to share some thoughts on the recent rejuvenation of the House of Commons and to offer some ideas for future reform. I am also pleased to have the opportunity to answer questions from the audience and engage in such a direct and practical way. ”
The ‘Reform of the Commons’ talk followed by a Q&A session will take place from 5.30 pm to 7 pm on Thursday 15 March 2012 in the University's Peel Lecture Theatre.
The Speakership under its present title dates back to 1377 when Sir Thomas Hungerford was appointed. Equivalent presiding officers before this time were called 'parlour' or 'prolocutor' and have been identified as far back as 1258 when Peter de Montfort is said to have presided over the so-called 'Bad Parliament' held at Oxford that year.
The Speaker of the House of Commons chairs debates in the Commons Chamber and the holder of this office is an MP who has been elected by other MPs.
The Speaker is the chief officer and highest authority of the House of Commons and must remain politically impartial at all times. During debates the Speaker keeps order and calls MPs to speak. The Speaker also represents the Commons to the Monarch, the Lords and other authorities and chairs the House of Commons Commission.
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