Today’s Evening Post

April 7, 2011


Thank you Mr Speaker

April 6, 2011

Mr Speaker has had to go for an interview on Kemet FM now.  We are going to end the formal part of the event now and break down to network; we all need to work together!

Hope it’s been informative and useful, will come back and correct spelling mistakes and perhaps re-phrase some of this tomorrow!

From Elinor C Jeffreys-Ghinie – As your predecessor has, Speaker Martin’s Single Highland Malt Whisky, what will you leave behind so that people may drink your health?’

I will leave behind a Single Malt whisky.  There are conventions in the house, one of which is that the Speaker selects a Whisky that is bottled specially and  available in the House of Commons shop.  The previous speaker, Mr Martin never drank Whisky, yet still selected one.

From the floor –

With the Primary Care Trusts being abolished and patient funding being passed to GP’s, will patients still be funded to travel to different hospitals?

Lillian Greenwood – The Government are passing through some of the biggest changes to the NHS that we have ever seen, yet people power has managed to get the government to stop and think again.  Simply, it will be up to GP’s to decide where they get services from, however how that relates to peoples choice in selecting their services is unclear.

Next week on the 14th April, the partners for this event are hosting an event looking into GP commissioning with Chris Packham, Director of Public Health in Nottingham and others at the Indian Community Centre. More info here –

Questions continued

April 6, 2011

From Rukshana Aziz – Would ask the speaker with the issues and the effects of cuts, is the government still going to be giving voluntary groups grants to help them with energy saving tips? There are a lot of vulnerable people who will lose vital services if certain cuts were to be made in home insulation, recycling waste collection etc. As these are very important to help improve the lives of people.

Many services are going to be affected.  If you are the user and will be affected, then you should get in touch with your MP and raise the issue – these things are being debated every day.  They are important issues and are raised everyday due to deficit reduction plans.

From Mr Marie-Claude Kabazo – How will the government support new social enterprises in this crisis?

Again, difficult to answer as things are changing.  The Government would say that they want to support social enterprises, but are looking for them to be leaner and fitter, to make backroom costs more effective.

Mrs Greenwood – Have had a debate around the way that cuts will impact the community and voluntary sector in Nottingham, and has worked with CVS in doing so.  Questions have been put to ministers, but replies are yet to be forthcoming especially around concerns that alternative funding streams could be found, but time is needed.  She emphasizes her willingness to meet with groups and to lobby Government on the subject.

Nigel Cooke (One Nottingham) made himself available to discuss issues as well.

From Aliya Vaughan – How can community groups help people in the community if funding has been withdrawn from them? The most vulnerable of society suffer the most like families, the elderly, disabled and minority and ethnic groups. To withdraw funding just makes their difficult lives even more difficult. Please tell us how this helps us believe that we are all in this economic crisis together?

The short answer is that it makes life very, very difficult for those providing support or being advocates.  Have previously tried to explain why the government is doing what it is in trying to very quickly reduce deficit, but if you are on the receiving end you will feel aggrieved by the measures.  Mr Bercow mentions how as an MP he is always going into battle on behalf of the most vulnerable in his constituency.  As much as his (Buckingham) might have less social issues, they are still there and there are still vulnerable people in his area. If services like day centres for the elderly are cut, it impacts the lives of people that use them as a lifeline immediately.

More questions

April 6, 2011

The last from the Nottingham Academy students:

What made you want to become the Speaker of the House of Commons?

Short answer is that I had no desire to be a minister, and that there might not be much chance of me being asked to be a minister.  Most MP’s think they have got something to offer, and I thought that I would be good at being speaker. (there was a longer answer too).

Why are university tuition fees going up?

The Government is very anxious to ensure that whilst they are having to reduce University budgets, Universities should still have a reasonable income so they can keep staff, have resources, offer good courses and do good research.  Mr Speaker makes the point that he is explaining what is happening rather than be for or against the governments decisions.  He explains the process whereby the Liberal Democrats had to decide how to create a coalition.  Mr Speaker is not sure how his parents would have felt about him going to University in the current climate, but is sure he would still have wanted to go.

Lillian Greenwood responds: I stated before the election that I was against tuition fees going up, and am able to stand by this as a Labour MP.  I had a meeting with the Connexions service about young peoples futures, who said that less young people were thinking about going to University because of the expected debt at the end of their course.


April 6, 2011

Mr Speaker will now be answering questions sent in by people at the event.

To begin with, a few from students at the Nottingham Academy.

What has been the hardest debate to manage since you became Speaker of the House of Commons?

Debate on proposed sharp increase in tuition fees.  Hardest to manage for two reasons:
– the subject inflamed passions on both sides of the discussion
– In debates of that kind, there are always more people that want to speak than there is time for.  There are inevitably people who are unhappy about not getting to speak – the Speaker doesn’t control the timetable, but can select the questions from those that are sent in before the debate.

I am part of student voice for Y9 at Nottingham Academy, where you ever involved with anything similar at your school and what was your role?I was a bit.  I stood for the School Council, but was not elected!  I did stand for election in primary school, opposing school dinners and seeking to improve them.

The experience of speaking in public, especially in terms of self-confidence, is very important for young people as they grow.  Parliament has now decided to allow the UK Youth Parliament to hold one debate per year in the House.  For MP’s to gain the respect of young people, they need to show respect for them.
What are your qualities as Speaker and what do you find most difficult in your job?

To be clearly fair, not having favourites and being impartial is vital.  Being tough in some situations and competent at the role.  Pleasing everybody is impossible, and it is sometimes difficult to ignore what is childish behaviour in the House.  Mr Bercow gives an example of an MP imitating the Irish accent, he has had to be firm in making it clear how inappropriate that was.

You are still currently a conservative MP for Buckingham, how do you remain impartial as the speaker given your own political views and values?

When the speaker becomes speaker, they resign from their party.  The Speaker sits as MP for their constituency, but not as part of a party.  Mr Bercow tells a story about how he can get much quicker replies to enquiries from his constituents from ministers in the Government.  This is, in part, in recognition of the Speakers role as he doesn’t get to speak in debates.  The Speaker can also request meetings with ministers.

Select Committee’s

April 6, 2011

Mr Speaker raises an example about how someone concerned with changes to a bill that might affect work around Mental Health, they should contact the Select Committee for Health.

You might ask the Select Committee to do an investigation into the issue if you believe it is relevant. You might like to be present, you might like to submit evidence, you might even want to take part by giving oral evidence to the Committee.

Mr Bercow raises an interesting point about how the chairs of Select Committee’s are now elected rather than appointed by the government they are meant to be scrutinising.  This means they are no longer ‘in-hoc’ and can be truly independent.

Keep typing….

April 6, 2011

If you want to raise an issue, your first stop should be your local MP via letter, e-mail or a visit to an advice centre, so make sure you know who your local MP is

Graham Allen (Nottingham North), Lillian Greenwood (Nottingham South), Chris Leslie (Nottingham East)

Remember, that whatever his or her interests are as a specialism, whatever your interest is must be theirs.

All MP’s hold regular surgeries, these are places where you can go and meet them on a regular basis.

The very essence of democratic representation that MP’s are paid to advise is a development of a relationship with your MP around the issues that are important to you.  If you are campaigning as a group, why not invite your MP to come and visit you?  They are usually in Westminster Monday to Friday when Parliament is sitting, when it is not, MP’s are usually in their constituencies most of the time.  They are excited to visit and see what is going on in their constituencies to understand better what is going on.

Parliamentary Outreach is an integral part of democracy.  ‘It seems astonishing that for 700 years we did not have such a facility’.  It exists to raise awareness of the process of government and to enhance engagement with Parliament.

They host workshops and sessions all over the company.  The most important, perhaps, pertains to helping people understand how new bills or legislation will affect them.  They are not for or against the bill, but exist to explain what the implications are and how the process works as well as helping people and organisations understand how they can influence change.

First few images

April 6, 2011

I’m just taking a few snapshots for the blog.  Toby Neal is taking far better shots that will be available later.

Waiting to begin

April 6, 2011

We are now sat in the Council House, the audience are coming in. Not long now until we begin!

I will be trying to keep you all up to speed with what is going on, and with all the questions and answers that are raised during the session.

If you have a question you would like to ask, then get in touch via the comments or on Twitter by messaging @brightideasnott – can’t promise questions will get asked, but I will try and get them in!

Also, remember to listen along on 97.5 Kemet FM later.