British speaker slams parliament 'yobbery'

2014-02-19 05:30
Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow is pictured in his office at the House of Commons, in Westminster. (Stefan Rousseau, AFP)

Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow is pictured in his office at the House of Commons, in Westminster. (Stefan Rousseau, AFP)

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London - The speaker of Britain's House of Commons has launched a fresh effort to curb the "yobbery" of rowdy lawmakers screaming in the chamber.

John Bercow, the presiding officer of parliament's lower house, said in an interview on Tuesday he wanted to reform the raucous weekly prime minister's questions (PMQs) session.

Parliament's regular set-piece debates  are a chance for backbenchers and the opposition leader to fire questions at the PM.

It usually descends into half an hour of partisan barracking and school playground-style mockery, with pumped-up MPs jeering and shouting over each other.

Parliament's image

Bercow has written to conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, labour opposition leader Ed Miliband and Deputy PM Nick Clegg of the liberal democrats in a bid to reform PMQs and improve parliament's image after the expenses scandal.

Bercow told The Independent newspaper he was not expecting MPs to behave like "Trappist monks" and he understood that "passions will be aroused".

However, "there are people who think culturally the atmosphere is very male, very testosterone-fuelled and, in the worst cases, of yobbery and public school twittishness", he said.

"There's an inverse link between decibels and decorum; screaming is not scrutiny.

"I don't think we should be prissy about this, but I am not sure we're setting a good example to the next generation of voters."

Week in, week out, Bercow goes further than the regular speaker's cry for "Order!", singling out and admonishing MPs for yelling across the chamber.

He often tells them their infantile behaviour alienates the public.

However, many daytime viewers tune in specifically to watch the knockabout scenes as the PM trades verbal barbs with the opposition.

Read more on:    david cameron  |  uk
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