Speaker calls Gove "unparliamentary"

Janet Downs's picture
This comment on Twitter says that the speaker condemned Mr Gove's behaviour as "unparliamentary" today.

Does anyone have any info on this? I've tried BBC Listen Again for Parliament this afternoon, but the session with questions to Mr Gove is unavailable.

This is not the first time that the Speaker has censured Mr Gove's behaviour in the House. During the EMA debate, Mr Gove lost his temper and shouted at fellow MPs to "Sit down!". The Speaker had to remind him that it was up to the Speaker to tell MPs when to sit down, not the Sec of State for Education.
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Janet Downs's picture
Tue, 08/02/2011 - 08:17

I looked at Hansard for 7 Feb and found no reference to the Twitter comment about the Speaker and Mr Gove. Seems that the accusation was not accurate this time.

Tom's picture
Tue, 08/02/2011 - 08:39

Well, the BBC seem to think he did:


"Speaker John Bercow was asked to rule on whether Mr Gove was allowed to use the phrase "rank hypocrisy" to refer to Labour MPs.

Labour's Kevin Brennan said, if it was allowed, his party would like to use it more to refer to the government.

The Speaker said using it to describe what an MP had said was unparliamentary "and should be withdrawn"."

Hansard backs this up, with Mr. Brennan's point of order here:


Mr. Speaker's reply ends thus:

"I have had the record checked, and the words about which the hon. Gentleman complains appear in the draft Official Report at the end of the answer
It is indeed unparliamentary for any Member of the House to suggest that another Member is a hypocrite or has said something hypocritical.
The term "rank hypocrisy", when directed at what another Member has said, is unparliamentary and should be withdrawn. I hope that is clear."

I'd say that was fairly clear.

Janet Downs's picture
Tue, 08/02/2011 - 17:42

Thanks for that. I had only read the section in Hansard when they discussed schools. It didn't occur to me to search further. The exchange between Andy Burnham and Mr Gove was illuminating:

Mr Burnham: "Are you really saying to young people and employers today that dead languages are more important than business studies, engineering, ICT, music and RE?," he said.

Mr Gove replied: "I am surprised you have the brass neck to stand here and say working-class children shouldn't study modern foreign languages, shouldn't study science, shouldn't study history and shouldn't study geography?"

Mr Burnham was suggesting nothing of the sort, and Mr Gove avoided answering Mr Burnham's question.

Tom's picture
Tue, 08/02/2011 - 21:09

"Mr Gove avoided answering Mr Burnham’s question."

Mr. Gove does this rather a lot. It's his own special contribution to the Coalition's openness and transparency agenda.

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