Sir Alan Beith lays out case for becoming Commons Speaker
A NORTH East MP last night emerged as a leading candidate to clean up Westminster.
Berwick MP Sir Alan Beith put himself in contention to become Commons Speaker after Michael Martin quit over the Westminster expenses crisis.
The respected Liberal Democrat said it was a "crucial" time for Parliament and was ready to lead reform, declaring to voters: "This is your Parliament, we have got to make it work for you."
And MPs across the political divide said he would be a "good choice" having become a senior political figure after three decades in Parliament.
But he could face competition from ex-Lib Dem leader Sir Ming Campbell and Tory MPs while Sunderland South's Chris Mullin has been suggested as an interim Speaker before the General Election.
"This is a crucial time for the House of Commons and if I have enough support across the parties, I am willing to take on the task of leading reform as Speaker, but this is a matter for the House to decide," said Sir Alan, who stood for the job in 2000.
The Berwick MP went on: "I care about Parliament and democracy.
“I don't like to see it dragged down and I think it matters to live in a democracy and for people to have confidence in their Parliament.
"And I think the Speaker has got to address the public as well as Parliament to try and restore confidence."
He described as "sad" Mr Martin's departure, but stressed a new approach and style was needed.
"The Speaker has got to be someone who leads Parliament to changing things that aren't right rather than simply defending things that have gone on for a long time," he said.
Sir Alan demanded the allowance system be handed to an independent body while promising MPs more control over Parliament to better hold Government to account. Sir Alan spoke of "frustrating" votes when changes he wanted were rejected, but that the public had made clear change was needed.
"That will give the new Speaker a degree of authority in enabling the House to make those kind of changes," he said.