Page last updated at 08:12 GMT, Monday, 22 June 2009 09:12 UK

Speaker: Runners and riders

Highlights from the hustings

The Commons speaker, Michael Martin, has announced he is stepping down on 21 June. His successor will be chosen by MPs the following day. Here are the 10 confirmed contenders for the job.

John Bercow

Backbench Tory MP. Former right winger, who has moved towards the centre in recent years. Thought to have the backing of many Labour MPs for the Speaker's job but may not be popular enough with his own side to stand a chance, although bookmakers Ladbrokes has him at 3/1 land the job. Says the next Speaker must be a "robust advocate of democratic politics" and that he would get out into the country to promote and explain "in a non-partisan" the role of Parliament and the work MPs do, as well as listening to the public's concerns.

Alan Beith

Veteran Lib Dem MP, with more than 30 years' experience. Former party leadership contender. Chairman of the constitutional affairs committee. Respected figure who was in the running for the job in 2000. Says the job of Speaker should be to "lead on reform" rather than defend the status quo and to strengthen MPs' ability to challenge the government. But asked if the new Speaker had to be "whiter than white", he joked: "Nobody is whiter than white." He said he had once claimed twice for the same television licence but immediately sent off a cheque when he realised his mistake.

Margaret Beckett

First female foreign secretary who briefly led the Labour Party after John Smith's death and before the election of Tony Blair, Margaret Beckett is certainly not short of experience. Her late entry into the race to be Speaker came after she reportedly quit the government after asking to be given a full time cabinet seat as housing minister. She said she wanted to help Parliament deal with its "considerable problems". Not untouched by the expenses furore but commands respect on all sides of the House. Mrs Beckett was named the 2/1 favourite by bookies Ladbrokes on the eve of the poll.

Parmjit Dhanda

By his own admission not an "obvious choice" for the role of Speaker, Labour's Mr Dhanda says that as one of the few Asian MPs in the House he was spurred into action by the BNP winning seats in the European Parliament. The former fire services minister and MP for Gloucester plans to stand on an agenda of reforming Parliament, including holding debates outside the chamber in provincial towns and cities. Has said he wants to make Parliament "less macho" and improve facilities for MPs with children.

Sir Michael Lord

The Conservative MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich Sir Michael Lord stood for the Speakership when Betty Boothroyd won the post. He said: "I have got strong support, and I am very serious about the contest."

Sir Patrick Cormack

Veteran Tory backbencher who was in the running for the job last time. Chairman of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee. Says he would bring "a robust impartiality" to the role. Expert on constitutional affairs but may be seen as too much of a traditionalist to lead changes demanded by most MPs.

Ann Widdecombe

Former shadow home secretary and one of the best-known and most widely respected members of the Commons. Plans to stand down at next general election and has ruled out becoming a permanent replacement for Michael Martin. But is attracting support from colleagues as a possible interim Speaker.

Sir George Young

Conservative grandee and widely-respected chairman of the Standards and Privileges Committee. One of the bookmakers' favourites to land the job of Speaker after missing out in 2000. But Eton-educated background may count against him in the eyes of Labour MPs. Ladbrokes makes him 3/1.

Sir Alan Haselhurst

Conservative MP and deputy speaker. Widely-respected figure who also served as deputy to former Speaker Betty Boothroyd. Another favourite at the bookmakers but being singled out by The Daily Telegraph for claiming £142,119 in second homes allowances since 2001, despite having no mortgage on the property, will not help his chances.

Richard Shepherd

Independent-minded veteran Tory MP, first elected in 1979. Has led criticism of Speaker Martin. Stood unsuccessfully for the Speakership in October 2000. Ladbrokes makes him 14/1.


Former Labour minister Frank Field ruled himself out a week before the contest. Labour MP Tony Wright, chair of the public administration committee has also said he does not want the job. Lib Dem Treasury spokesman Vince Cable, an early favourite with the bookmakers, has ruled himself out of the running for the Speaker's job, as has his former party leader Sir Menzies Campbell. Former shadow home secretary David Davis has also ruled himself out. Labour's Sylvia Heal, one of the current deputy speakers, has also said she will not stand.

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