Page last updated at 22:36 GMT, Thursday, 14 May 2009 23:36 UK

MP joins calls for Speaker to go

Chris Huhne: 'I think Michael Martin will have to go'

Liberal Democrats Home Affairs spokesman Chris Huhne has joined the calls for Commons Speaker Michael Martin to step down from his post.

Mr Huhne told the BBC: "I think Michael Martin will have to go. I don't think he's the right person to do this job."

A no confidence motion in the Speaker is to be tabled over what some view as his poor handling of the expenses row.

Some MPs felt he was more worried about finding out where the leak came from than in responding to public anger.

'Too compromised'

Speaking on BBC 2's Newsnight, Mr Huhne said: "Whatever his virtues in the past, the truth is we need new leadership to make sure we grapple with this issue.

"I think that the Speaker needs to be a reformer who's going to be determined to sweep the stables clean."

Conservative backbencher Douglas Carswell is to table the no confidence motion next week.

Labour MP Gordon Prentice and fellow Labour MP Paul Flynn, along with Lib Dem Norman Lamb, have already said that they will back the motion.

Michael Martin
The Speaker's supporters say he has long been the victim of snobbery.

Mr Prentice argued the speaker was now "too compromised" by recent events and so should stand down immediately.

On Monday, in a statement to the Commons, Mr Martin angrily defended the decision to ask police to investigate where the expenses leak came from.

He rebuked Labour MP Kate Hoey, who said it was a waste of money when police had a "huge" job to do in London, telling her: "I hear your public utterances and your pearls of wisdom on Sky News. It's easy to talk then."

He also said Lib Dem MP Norman Baker, who has long campaigned for greater transparency on MPs' expenses, was "another member who is keen to say to the press what the press wants to hear".

The BBC's political editor Nick Robinson said the number of public calls for Mr Martin to go was unprecedented.

Unprecedented snobbery

Mr Martin has been Speaker, the presiding officer of the House of Commons, since 2000.

He has found himself embroiled in some controversy - prior to the expenses row, it was over the handling of the arrest of the Conservative frontbencher Damian Green and search of his Commons office.

Mr Martin's critics have also questioned his own use of expenses and accused him of not being impartial.

But his supporters say the Glasgow North East MP - a former sheet metal worker - has faced unprecedented snobbery and slurs since becoming Speaker in 2000.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has also said Mr Martin "does a good job" adding: "You have got to understand that a lot of things happen in the heat of the moment."

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