John Bercow Defeated Over Commons Clerk

It looks like Carol Mills won’t be the next Clerk of the House of Commons after all. Her appointment was controversial from the outset, as many MPs felt that she didn’t have the necessary knowledge of parliamentary procedure. As more and more MPs voiced their concerns, Bercow was forced to ‘pause’ the appointment process in September while a special committee of MPs investigated the governance of the House of Commons.

Not surprisingly, the committee recommended that the appointment process should be terminated and started anew. It also suggested that some of the Clerk’s managerial functions should be given to a new official known as the ‘Director General of the House of Commons.’ This way, they don’t have to try to find someone who both an expert in parliamentary procedure as well as a seasoned executive. This seems like a reasonable move since those skill sets don’t often occur together.

Meanwhile, Bercow has been busily blaming others for the shambolic appointment process. He claims that he always believed the Clerk’s procedural functions didn’t sit well with the managerial functions, but Andrew Lansley (the former Leader of the Commons) and Sir Robert Rogers (the former Clerk) refused to heed his advice, resulting in a selection process that was flawed from the outset. This seems rather convenient, to say the least. To quote the late Mandy Rice-Davies, he would say that, wouldn’t he?

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