Wednesday 17 March 2010

Bercow having a tough time of things in the Commons...

I just wanted to draw attention to this ammusing exchange between the Speaker and the Beast of Bolsover Dennis Skinner in the House yesterday.

Mr. Speaker: Order. I have operated a very considerable latitude in these brief exchanges, and there have already been several-frankly, too many-references to the issue of party funding. The matter upon which we need exclusively to focus is that of the BA strike. I feel sure that a fine example of that focus will now be provided by Mr. Dennis Skinner.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover) (Lab): In any industrial dispute, it takes two sides to cause a row. Will my right hon. Friend draw the distinction between the clean money that is given by the trade union movement to the Labour party, as opposed to a man who refuses to pay tax on £127 million and bankrolls the Tory party?

Mr. Speaker: Order. The hon. Gentleman has placed his point firmly on the record, but the Minister requires only the- [ Interruption. ] Order. The Minister requires only the briefest of replies.

Mr. Skinner: Why do you only stop me and not these others?

Mr. Speaker: Order. [ Interruption. ] Order. The House needs to let me address this. I must say in fairness to the hon. Member for Bolsover that I did not stop him. He made his point, I have no objection to him doing so. To be fair, I did not interrupt him. He had his say.

Mr. Skinner: You do plenty of interrupting.

Mr. Speaker: Order. I do do some interrupting when it is necessary for me to do so.

There was more interrupting from the Speaker to come and more heckling of him from the benches - though the heckles weren't recorded in Hansard.

Knowing that this would be the case the ever helpful Andrew Robathan, deputy chief opposition whip, stood up and put the best heckle on the record...

Mr. Andrew Robathan (Blaby) (Con): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is the expression "verbal diarrhoea" parliamentary language? I have not heard it used in this House before, and certainly never about yourself or another occupant of the Chair, as it was just now.

Mr. Speaker: I did not hear the offending expression to which the hon. and gallant Gentleman refers. There is a certain amount of gesticulation now from a sedentary position both from him and from the hon. Member for Gainsborough (Mr. Leigh). The written record will tell us all, and I am happy to await it. The hon. Gentleman, who came into the House in 1992, knows-not least from his smile-that what he has just said does not amount to a point of order.

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