Order! Speaker is in the house at St Albans Girls School
PUBLISHED: 06:41 12 February 2014
Days after allegations hit the headlines about his wife being out of order at a London nightclub, a nonchalant John Bercow has faced question time at a St Albans school.
Last Thursday Mr Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons since 2009, swapped the, at times, classroom-like antics of Parliament to be quizzed by pupils at St Albans Girls’ School (STAGS), Sandridgebury Lane.
Just a day earlier he had told off Education Secretary Michael Gove for shouting at the top of his voice during Prime Minister’s Questions, warning him he would give him lines to write out.
This was after Mr Gove demanded tougher punishment for pupils who misbehaved in class.
The straight-speaking Speaker went on to tell Members of Parliament to calm themselves as, “it is only just after midday, many hours of the day remain, do not destroy your systems by exploding”.
Similar humorous remarks won the Speaker plenty of laughs at STAGS, where he hit the ground running with jokes about his stature.
He told pupils that he liked to start such talks by broaching the “sensitive matter” of his height.
Mr Bercow went on: “It has been suggested I am the shortest man ever to be Speaker. Size and height are not everything. We short people stick together. I am short, I have always been short, I am 51 years old now and likely to remain short.”
He then spoke about life as Speaker, and how he tried to be the “backbenchers’ champion”.
Another role is to meet and greet visitors from across the UK and the world, including President Obama in 2011 and Burmese Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
Asked by pupils about MPs’ behaviour, Mr Bercow said he liked it when members were “independently-minded”, but admitted he labelled one a “delinquent” for yelling.
He added: “I have been blown away by the MPs who stand up for what they believe is right. I like the cut and thrust of argument. These are people with strong views, so it is natural they argue. I like hearing the arguments – it is a huge privilege.”
The Herts Ad asked how he was coping with last week’s articles in several daily papers about his wife of 12 years, Sally Bercow, who has been scorned in the media after being photographed kissing a man in a nightclub.
Mr Bercow laughed, and replied: “I’m really relaxed. Such is life.”