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Speaker’s Statement

Volume 495: debated on Monday 6 July 2009

I wish to make a brief statement. Last Thursday, at the end of the statement on swine flu, by which time I was no longer in the Chair, the hon. Member for West Chelmsford (Mr. Burns) raised a point of order about the apparent leaking earlier that day of the contents of my own statement announcing that the deputy speakership posts would be subject to election in the autumn. The Chairman of Ways and Means gave a holding reply to that point of order, and I now wish to respond substantively to it.

I share the dismay of the hon. Member for West Chelmsford that this leak occurred after I had, as I pointed out in my original statement on the deputy speakerships, consulted Government and Opposition Whips, as a matter of courtesy. I am confident that this leak did not come from my staff, and I know that it did not come from me. I wish in future to feel able, in advance of any comparable statement, to consult others before making it. However, I give notice today that if such a leak occurs on any future occasion, I shall no longer feel under any obligation to hold such consultations in advance. I am sorry that I have to be so blunt so early in my speakership, but this sort of behaviour is precisely what harms the reputation of this House, and I do not intend to tolerate it.