1997 Onwards -
Below is the text of Mr Major’s Commons statement on the re-
LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION:
Mr Major: Madam Speaker-
When you first became our Speaker, you did so with substantial cross-
This House is a house of tradition, and it is a good tradition that in a new Parliament
we meet first with a single common purpose-
We in the House expect a great deal of our Speaker. The job specification is pretty
daunting: the patience of Job and the wisdom of Solomon are only the basic requirements.
We demand also impartiality, independence and fairness. We also like the Speaker
to call us when we wish to speak and never to call those that we do not especially
wish to hear. Sadly, Madam Speaker-
Of course, the Speaker must also tolerantly accept the patently bogus points of order that are raised from time to time, and do so with a limited air of patience.
It is often said in the House that the rights of Back Benchers are as sacred as those
of Front Benchers. It is usually said by Back Benchers, and invariably Front Benchers
pay lip service to that principle. I find myself in a unique position in the House.
There are lots of Front Benchers, and even more Back Benchers who wish to be Front
Benchers; I am a Front Bencher who wishes in due course to become a Back Bencher,
so let me assert that the rights of Back Benchers are as important as those of Front
Benchers. On Front Bench or Back Bench, Madam Speaker-
"The manner in which he lives-
The bargain cuts both ways, does it not? How much better off are we today than the House was under another of your predecessors, Mr. Speaker Manners Sutton, whose initial qualities for being Speaker were that he
"never . . . appeared to pay any attention to the privileges or orders of the House"?
As to his knowledge of Parliament, it was said:
"Some inconvenience will at first arise from his want of knowledge".
More chaos than inconvenience, I would think from my experience of this House. I
warmly welcome all the new Members of Parliament from all parties to what is I believe
the most remarkable institution in the world. I hope that they will enjoy their stay
here, however long or short it may be. None of the new or old Members who has followed
the proceedings of the House under your guidance, Madam Speaker-
Today, your office is both much more demanding and much more professional than it
has been at any stage in our long history. You are charged with protecting the rights
of the House and with imposing good order, even in moments of high drama. Whether
we are Front Benchers or Back Benchers, we owe it to you to help you to do so. We
owe it to you in the interests of good debate, good order and the reputation of this
House. Madam Speaker-