Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP: A Chorley man says thousands of constituents are ‘disenfranchised' because the borough’s MP is the speaker of the House of Commons

Retired computer industry worker Mike Atherton launched a petition calling for the Speaker of the House of Commons to cease to be a constituency MP once appointed.

Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 12:30 pm
Mike Atherton says his campaign is in no way whatsoever personal against Sir Lindsay, but simply a call for better democracy.

Chorley MP Sir Lindsay Hoyle is the current Speaker of the House of Commons, of course.

But as Mike points out, the Speaker cannot speak or vote in the Commons on any local, national or international issues.

In addition, they cannot be aligned to any political party, to ensure impartiality and fairness.

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Sir Lindsay Hoyle, MP for Chorley and Speaker for the House of Commons. Photo: Getty Images

And the major political parties do not field candidates against the Speaker, so they stand unopposed.

Mike, 67, of Claremont Avenue, Chorley, launched his petition on the Government website.

It stated: “The Speaker of the House has to be impartial and cannot have any party political affiliations. He/she cannot speak or vote in the commons.

"This means the Speaker’s constituents are not truly represented in Parliament. This is undemocratic and should be remedied.

"As one of the circa 76,000 voters in the current Speaker’s constituency, I am not fully represented in Parliament. My MP cannot speak or vote on any issues be they local, national or international.

"This is clearly a case of disenfranchisement of the 76,000 voters in the Speaker’s constituency and will continue unchanged for the remaining time that my MP stays in the Speaker role.

"Once an MP was appointed Speaker they remained an MP but ceased to represent a constituency, prompting a by-election for that constituency.”

Although the petition - now closed - didn’t achieve the 10,000 signatures it needed to be debated in Parliament, Mike is undeterred.

He says the issues still remain: “The voters in the Chorley constituency DO NOT have the opportunity to vote for any major party at a General Election, as the major parties do not field candidates against the Speaker.

“The Speaker cannot vote or speak on behalf of his/her constituents in the house, undermining the fundamental rights of the voters.

“This situation is undemocratic and disenfranchises the circa 76,000 voters in the Chorley constituency.”

He says his campaign is in no way whatsoever personal against Sir Lindsay, but simply a call for better democracy.

The married father of three and grandfather of seven, who revealed he had “always voted for Lindsay Hoyle”, said: “It’s taking away a right we all should have to vote for who represents us in Parliament and speaks for us on our behalf.”

Mike said he had written to Lindsay Hoyle about the situation.

He added: “I feel a speaker should become MP for the House of Commons and there would be a by-election in their constituency.

“I’m 67. I might be in a situation where I might never get a proper vote again in a General Election because our MP is the Speaker and that’s not right.

“I think really there’s a lot of loyalty to Lindsay in Chorley. “I’m not against him and he would still be an MP.”

Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP responded: “The question of whether the Speaker should also serve as a constituency MP is one for the Procedure Committee of the House of Commons.

“This has been considered in the past by the committee and the status quo whereby the Speaker has to be an elected Member of Parliament has always prevailed.

“It is not within my gift to change this rule.

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“I have always been proud to represent my local area and remain committed to doing so in the future.

“I continue to hold regular advice surgeries, continue to have a fully staffed office and continue to make representations to Ministers, government agencies, and other bodies on behalf of local constituents.

“In particular, I have found that since being Speaker I have greater access to Ministers and others and this has resulted in better outcomes, such as the reopening of our A&E which was a result of significant lobbying on my part of the Secretary of State for Health.

“I remain totally committed to representing local people and will continue to do this to the best of my ability.”