Speaker Bercow and the Mysterious Australian

Lord Soley

This would make a wonderful novel or film.
The Speaker in the House of Commons has shown an admirable desire to modernise Parliament by bringing in an Australian women who is the chief executive for the Australian Parliament in Canberra.
Speaker Bercow has managed to fall out with a number of staff in the Commons but I have some sympathy with his desire to bring in a chief executive – Parliament needs one BUT this lady cannot also be a Clerk of Parliament. That is a very different skill.
There is no reason why a new chief executive post should not work in tandem with a chief clerk. It reminds me of the conflict we had many years ago about who runs a hospital – it used to be doctors, now its chief executives. Frankly that is a better system. Doctors are good at being doctors but not managers. Chief Clerks are good at being chief clerks but not at running the Commons. I think the same applies to the House of Lords.
This was my view in the Commons and it is my view in the Lords but this conflict needs to be resolved by a new tandem relationship.

4 comments for “Speaker Bercow and the Mysterious Australian

  1. MilesJSD
    27/08/2014 at 6:30 pm

    Looks business-like enough; possibly the ‘expert foreigner’ would ensure disinterest.

    ‘Foreign’ expertise may still be the ‘purpose’-best,
    but the problem reains that it comes in against a seriously strong and reactionary xenophobia.

    In the 199Ts, Australia’s Queensland Police imported an expert Chief Police Commisisioner from England [Paul Newcome or suchlike, I forget those details] who hit a closed-ranks passively-hostile barrier of the Queensland Police, from top to bottom, and after only a few weeks in the job was front-page reported to have declared, almost in provoked exasperation, that
    “Queensland’s Police have to brought into the modern world, kicking and screaming if need be”.
    That Queensland contract included demanding “performance” and “limited-tenure” clauses, too.
    But in the end, the sullen passive rebellion continued against purpose & efficiency reform and won-out, the Brit was virtually ‘sacked’, and the regular local Chief Police Commissioner was re-instated, into the longstanding old constitutional contract, which required neither “performance” nor “tenure-limitation”.
    JSDM. [Had permanent residence in Australia for almost 30 years; participated and made many submissions to Government Public Enquiries, Reviews, and Public Hearings. That Police debacle, however, chanced to be not open to the Public].

  2. maude elwes
    28/08/2014 at 8:15 am

    When I read of this crazy, politically correct bulls I wondered just how much more of an insult could this man, along with his side kicks, want to impose on the British public. Because ‘impose’ or ‘forced’ is what this is. An outsider of the worst kind, Carol Mills, (That name Carol seems to swish around a lot in offensive matters) is an Australian stooge. A set up, another appointed entity that has no right to expect such a position in any Parliament, let alone one across the other side of the world from the land of her beginnings. And, isn’t it interesting how men are being sidelined for just about every political position, in line with ‘UN Agenda 21,’ we see in front of our faces. Remember Juncker insists on another female for the job Cameron put one of the Lords up for in Europe. Juncker wants another impotent recliner like Ashton, in order to reduce his need to explain his motives. Could it be woman are far easier to manipulate and reduce to fodder when flattered? I wonder!

    Is Bercow telling us that no Brit in the entire Parliament or outside it are fit for this post? If so, we should be dumping the lot of them, including him, from our craw right now. No pension and no notice required. Unfit for purpose and the bill for him has been way too high anyway.

    But, lets not show prejudice here. Instead we must have a look at the CV of this Australian mole. What are her qualifications? Anyone know? I can’t find them on the WWW. Has she ever faced an election? I can’t find one of those either. So, she was a plant there as well. Now why was that I wonder? Could it be her fashionable feminist approach, or, could it be she’s unable to keep her eye on the ball when it comes to conjured fiddles going on under her nose?

    In February she was questioned about her running of the department she covered in Canberra and was forced to admit to the Senate, she’d missed a very expensive catering fraud. It was ‘likely’ that, ‘yes, indeed the inappropriate practice of the company in question had escaped her.’ Even though I read this fiddle had been at it for more than two and a half years via a $500K per year contract. Something come her way did it? W Catering had been using the parliamentary facilities for catering outside events. I wonder how they came up with that idea? On top of that, the organisation she wanted to delve into the discrepancy were old pals which ended up costing the Australian tax payer a laughable sum it was so huge. So, all round, this feminist is a loser on many fronts. This was a police matter of fraud that ended up covered by getting another involved in the scandal in order to shift the blame. Now, that doesn’t auger well for the UK parliament does it? Surely we have enough of our own little negotiators of that kind well steeped within both our Houses. But, then, maybe Bercow felt she was a master at the game. Or, perhaps, she was a mate of his bedtime adviser. Who can tell?

    This little snippet shoudl raise the blood pressure of the British tax payer through the roof as what I read suggests this job is going to be made into a part time position and the pay is £200,000 PA. Nice one. She must be well in with whoever set her up for this little earner.

  3. ramotswe
    28/08/2014 at 9:10 am

    Exactly. Her sudden desire to move to England also coincides with two Senate inquiries at home in Australia: one into the running of her department and the other into whether the CCTV matter that occurred under her watch constitutes a contempt of the Senate.

  4. barry winetrobe
    28/08/2014 at 9:13 am

    A lot of what Lord Soley says makes sense – unlike much of the tabloid nonsense in the papers and other media about this subject.

    Either the most senior HC permanent official should be ‘Clerk/Chief Executive’ or ‘Chief Executive’. With the former option, the main skill set should focus on the ‘Ch Exec’ function, much needed in the House these days (2009 expenses scandal?), with the ‘Clerk of the House’ (‘Under Clerk of the Parliaments’ in the letters patent) as the formal title to preserve the constitutional continuities etc.. The position as head of the House of Commons Service – the post where, to quote the BBC’s report of the present Clerk’s view, “the buck must stop”, is too important for our representative democracy to be held by someone whose primary (sole?) expertise and career path has been parliamentary procedure, rather than professional managerial and administrative experience.

    Under either option, the most senior professional clerk, the House’s chief proceduralist and head of the relevant ‘clerkly’ department(s) would remain someone with the appropriate and unique expertise in parliamentary procedure and so on to do this extremely important job. But this post, like other senior professional experts in the House, should answer to the head of the overall Parliamentary Service.

    As Lord Soley rightly states, “Chief Clerks are good at being chief clerks but not at running the Commons.” Whatever the rights and wrongs of this present affair, the outcome should be that this is accepted and acted upon in the future.

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