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Saturday, 29 September, 2001, 08:49 GMT 09:49 UK
Speaker attacks lobbyists and spin
michael martin
Michael Martin: 'My place of work is the House'
The Commons Speaker, Michael Martin, has criticised spin doctors and lobbyists for being bad mannered and potentially interfering.

In an interview in the Parliamentary House Magazine, Mr Martin said lobbyists were his biggest worry.

"There are those who would say the only way to reach an MP or a minister is through them," the former Glasgow sheet-metal worker said.

He said in some cases they acted as a barrier between electors and the elected.

Some of them were very bad-mannered about it, and I used to chase them off

Michael Martin
"They put up a barrier between MPs and ministers, and those who want to reach parliament.

"They are doing a disservice to the House."

Mr Martin said he took pride in making himself available to his constituents.

He also warned ministers they had to keep spin doctors under control.

"My place of work is the House of Commons," he said. "As far as I am concerned, spin doctors simply do not exist.

"I remember them from my time on the select committees.

'Clod about'

"They used to clod about the place. Some of them would come on to the dais.

"Some of them were very bad-mannered about it, and I used to chase them off."

Mr Martin continued: "I talk to ministers. The minister is the engineer.

Sacked MPs

"I do not want to deal with the apprentice.

"If I find a situation - and I have not so far - where a spin doctor is interfering in the work of an MP, I would have no hesitation in pulling them in and talking to them."

Mr Martin also welcomed the Commons' decision to reinstate two outspoken Labour MPs sacked by the government from their posts as chairmen of two key parliamentary committees.

Gwyneth Dunwoody and Donald Anderson were restored to the transport and foreign affairs select committees respectively after a debate in parliament.

'Empty benches'

And the Speaker said that vote had been a good thing.

He also appealed to MPs to fill up the "empty green benches" in the Chamber.

Mr Martin said the fact that MPs have television feeds in their offices might have reduced attendance.

But he concluded: "There is no substitute for the real thing."

See also:

13 Mar 01 | UK Politics
Spinning out of control
13 Mar 01 | UK Politics
Government advisers under fire
01 Nov 00 | UK Politics
Blair blocks Powell scrutiny
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