Speaker stands firm

John Armstrong writes:

Chalk another one up for Lockwood Smith. Parliament’s Speaker yesterday secured a small, yet potentially significant, victory in his continuing campaign to get Cabinet ministers to answer opponents’ questions in the House in an informative and meaningful manner.

It followed a confrontation between Smith and Finance Minister Bill English. This was no Mexican stand-off. Smith was always going to win. His authority would have been seriously undermined had he not done so. Which begged the question why English chose to defy the Speaker’s requests that he make a better fist of answering what was a pretty straightforward question of little consequence in the grander scheme of things.

But that is by-the-by. Alongside imposing greater transparency on MPs’ expenses, Smith’s drive for proper ministerial accountability during question-time is the best thing that has happened to Parliament for a very long time.

I think almost everyone is pleased at the changes that Lockwood has instituted.

It will be interesting to observe one day, whether a future Labour Speaker will continue with requiring Ministers to actually answer questions.

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