Aside from the constitutional doctrine that proceedings in Parliament may not be questioned in any court, the police have plenty of real work to be getting on with, without their time being wasted on the carryings-on with Mr Speaker.
Apparently, somebody has complained to the police because Mr Speaker, John Bercow, was heard to mutter under his breath “stupid woman” after an acrimonious row with the Leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom.
The row was over the decision by a minister to make a statement on a ‘supply day’. Supply days are given to the Opposition to decide what is debated and, by convention, the Government does not intrude with its own business which would otherwise crowd-out the time available for the subject chosen by the Opposition. For a minister to take up the time with a statement is rather ‘bad form’, and the person responsible for scheduling the business of the House is the Leader.
Now, the Leader of the House has a dual function: as a cabinet minister she is clearly part of the Government, but equally, she is Leader of the whole House of Commons and therefore should be sensitive to the views of back-benchers on both sides of the chamber. Allowing a Government statement on an Opposition day, at the very least, shows a certain lack of sensitivity, which irritated Mr Speaker.
In the scale of crimes and insensitivities however, it doesn’t rank that highly, and it’s not as if it hasn’t happened before under governments of both colours.
The next day Mr Speaker explained -without apologising: He told us that his overheard remark ‘stupid’ referred only to his opinion about the decision to put on a Government statement on an Opposition day, and he stood by it.
The other word: ‘woman’ must have been lost in translation. Certainly, it didn’t refer to the Leader because everyone knows that she is both hard-working and very clever.
Well, who cares anyway?
How many times have any of us MPs muttered something much worse under our breath after receiving a duff reply from the minister at the despatch box. As Ken Clarke pointed out, if we are all to be referred to the police for such indiscretions then not a single member of Parliament would be left.
Frankly, we have more important fish to fry.
Referring the matter to the Police is more than stupid, it’s just plain bonkers.
The announcement of another stupid EU directive, this time requiring owners of ride-on mowers to get motor insurance for mowing their own lawns, reminded me of our wisdom in voting to leave this wretched interfering institution and, hopefully, managing it before the directive requires our compliance.
For my own part however, I dispensed with my ride-on a year or so ago, on the grounds that the discipline of having to push one instead, would be beneficial to my weight and consequently to my health.
It is depressing that we are all soon to be asked to pay higher taxes to fund the NHS when so much of its increasing costs are down to the unhealthy lifestyles of its patients, so many of whom don’t seem to realise that their joints and vital organs were never designed to carry the weight that they are placing on them.
Perhaps, as a stealth tax on sitting, the objective of EU directive isn’t so stupid after all?