The Speaker of the House of Commons, Michael Martin, allegedly told another MP: “I did not come into politics not to take what is owed to me.”
Says The Times:
THE Commons Speaker, Michael Martin, is said to have delivered an extraordinary outburst against his critics who are demanding reform of parliamentary pay and expenses.
Martin, a former sheet metal worker and shop steward, allegedly told a senior MP: “I have been a trade unionist all my life. I did not come into politics not to take what is owed to me.”
The Speaker has so far refused to speak in public about the expenses scandal. However, the MP said Martin made his revealing outburst when he challenged him to take a more active role in reforming the lax allowances regime. “He saw his role simply as a shop steward defending MPs’ Spanish practices,” said the MP.
As chairman of the House of Commons commission, the Speaker has sweeping powers over the administration of parliament. Many MPs believe Martin’s intransigence is one of the key reasons why the second homes allowance has remained unreformed.
Douglas Carswell, Conservative MP for Harwich and a reform campaigner, said: “There has been a catastrophic failure of leadership. Mr Martin is not up to the job of reforming the House of Commons.”
Norman Baker, the Liberal Democrat MP, said: “The House of Commons commission has failed in recent years to realise the leadership role it should have exercised.”
Pressure is growing on Martin, 63, to confirm that he will retire after the general election, expected to be held next year. Some MPs are concerned that far from preparing to leave the £141,866-a-year job, Martin wants to continue in office indefinitely.
Fortunately there will be a general election within a year, when Martin’s constituents will have their say over whether he keeps his £141k gravy train lifestyle.