Bercow should stand down before next election, Boothroyd hints

Baroness Boothroyd
Baroness Boothroyd
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Commons speaker John Bercow should stand down before the next election, one of his predecessors has hinted.

Mr Bercow has said he intends to serve a full term, keeping him in the Speaker’s chair until 2022 unless there is an early general election.

But Baroness Boothroyd - who was born and raised in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire - said speakers should retire mid-term, in order to allow MPs to elect a replacement they have been able to properly assess.

She told The House magazine: “I always believed, long before I was speaker, that a speaker should retire mid-term.

“It should never be at the end of a parliamentary session.

“I was in the unfortunate position of when (Bernard) Weatherill retired, it was at the end of a parliamentary session.

“And therefore, you have a new House, you have new members, they don’t know who they’re getting.

“Whereas, if it’s mid-term, they know the weaknesses and strengths of a candidate.

“I believe all speakers should do that courtesy - it is a courtesy - to the House.”

The crossbench peer also called for the size of the House of Lords to be slashed from its current 785 members.

The Lord Speaker’s committee on the size of the House of Lords has recommended the House be reduced to 600 members, but Lady Boothroyd said: “I want to see the House of Lords reduced to a membership of something like 400.”

She suggested there should be “retirement at about the age of 75 or 80” and an end to the elections to replace hereditary peers: “When they fall off the perch, that’s it.”