UK

‘Bring back Bercow!’ – Sir Lindsay Hoyle heckled after Gaza debate decision

The Speaker took what was considered an unprecedented step of selecting two amendments.

Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle
Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle (House of Commons/UK Parliament//PA)

Sir Lindsay Hoyle faced calls of “bring back Bercow” as he made an exceptional decision ahead of a Commons debate on a ceasefire in Gaza.

Alongside the calls for him to be replaced by his predecessor, the Commons Speaker faced calls of “shame on you”, and shouts that he should resign, as well as clapping from the SNP, an action not allowed in the Commons chamber.

Sir Lindsay took what was considered an unprecedented step of selecting two amendments, from both the Labour frontbench and the Government, to the SNP’s motion calling for an “immediate ceasefire in Gaza and Israel”.

The Speaker said he took the decision in order to give MPs the “widest possible range” of options in the Gaza ceasefire debate because of its importance.

The Commons Speaker said: “This is a highly sensitive subject on which feelings are running high, in the House, in the nation, and throughout the world.

“I think it is important on this occasion that the House is able to consider the widest possible range of options.”

To outcry from MPs he added: “I have therefore decided to select the amendments both in the name of the Prime Minister and in the name of the Leader of the Opposition.”

Sir Lindsay said that Labour’s amendment would be voted on first, followed by the SNP’s original motion, then the Government’s amendment if the original text was not agreed to.

He said: “Because the operation of standing order 31 will prevent another amendment from being moved after the Government has moved its amendment, I will exceptionally call the Opposition frontbench spokesperson to move their amendment at the beginning of the debate once the SNP spokesperson has moved their motion.

“At the end of the debate the House will have an opportunity to take a decision on the official Opposition amendment.

“If that is agreed to there is a final question on the main motion as amended.

“If the official opposition amendment is not agreed to, I will call the minister to move the Government amendment formally.”

Former speaker John Bercow
John Bercow Former speaker John Bercow (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

After calling for order from MPs, he added: “That will engage the provisions of standing order number 31.

“So the next vote will be on the original words in the SNP motion.

“If that is not agreed to, then the House will have the opportunity to vote on the Government amendment.

“Proceeding this way will allow a vote to take place potentially on all proposals from each of the three main parties.”

He was then accused of “moving the goalposts” by an MP from the Tory backbenches, and responded: “Does somebody want to leave?

“I am determined to finish.”

But the Speaker faced further disruption, despite several calls for order, as he continued to explain his decision to MPs.

Sir Lindsay was met with laughter and heckling as he said: “I should tell the House that in my opinion, the operation of standing order 31 which governs the way amendments to the Opposition Day motions are dealt with reflects an outdated approach…”

As Sir Desmond Swayne shouted “Bring back Bercow!”, the Speaker replied: “If you want to, do it.”

After attempting to regain control, he added: “…which restricts the operations which can be put the House. It is my intention to ask the procedure committee to consider the operation.”

The SNP shouted “Shame on you!” at the Speaker, while Tory party chairman Richard Holden could be seen shouting “shameful!”