Page last updated at 14:14 GMT, Monday, 22 June 2009 15:14 UK

Michael Martin stands down as MP

Former Speaker Michael Martin
The former speaker can now stand down as an MP

The former speaker of the House of Commons Michael Martin has been formally granted permission to stand down as an MP.

In keeping with Commons tradition, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has appointed Mr Martin to be Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead.

This is a technical device to allow him to stand down as an MP. No date has yet been set for the resultant by election.

MPs will elect a successor to Mr Martin as speaker this afternoon.

Mr Martin became the first Speaker to be forced from office in 300 years following widespread public revulsion at the number of MPs who were seen to take advantage of the Commons' expenses rules.

His replacement will inherit the role of adjudicating MPs' debates, representing Parliament to outside bodies, as well as overseeing the administration of the House of Commons.

Farewell Speech

In his valedictory address from the Speaker's chair, Mr Martin repeated his apology to the public over the expenses issue but said MPs also had to share the blame for failing to bring in reforms last year.

Let me say again to the men and women of this country I am sorry
Michael Martin
Commons speaker

He told MPs: "This subject has caused understandable loss of public trust and confidence in us all. In my 30 years in the House I have seen nothing like it.

"Let me say again to the men and women of this country I am sorry.

"But also let me remind this house that it passed up an opportunity of dealing with this emotive issue less than a year ago."

He added: "I wish that party leaders would have shown then some of the leadership that they have shown now."

And although tradition dictated that votes on issues such as expenses are not whipped, he said: "This does not remove the responsibility of leaders to speak up for common sense and for the obvious wishes of the country in seeking necessary reform.

"We should have done that last year."



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