The Backbench Spring: What about the Liberal motion?

The fate of members’ statements faces a vote

At about 3:30pm this afternoon, the House will take up a brief debate of the Liberal motion on statements by members.

The choice facing MPs would seem to be this: Pursue the option presented by the Speaker, in which members must only have the courage to stand if they wish to speak, or adopt a system that formally regulates who gets to speak during those 15 minutes each day?

I say choice because it is not clear to me whether the two approaches could easily co-exist. If the House adopts a formal system to determine who speaks during statements by members, what power would the Speaker have to recognize any other MP? As the Speaker said yesterday, “Members elect a Speaker from among the membership to apply rules they themselves have devised and can amend.”

So MPs might have to very quickly decide which approach best serves their interests. Meanwhile, as Mark Jarvis tweeted last night, it is not so simple that the Speaker’s ruling should necessarily result in a rush of maverick behaviour.

I think this was the best possible outcome and is a better result than what wld have resulted from sending the matter to committee. As per @acoyne, the ruling makes clear that the Speaker has undeniable prerogative to determine who speaks in the House. As it should be. It also makes it clear that members’ speech, with a few reasonable constraints, should not be encumbered. Most importantly, the right of each individual member to seek the floor is not dependent on any other member, i.e., the party whips.

So there are now two things to watch. First, whether we see a surge in members rising on their own volition, seeking to speak. This goes to the distinction @acoyne drew b/t decisions of individuals& systematic incentives in his excellent piece … While there is no disagreeing that any member is free to set their own behavior and, collectively, revolutionize the way the House operates… My hunch is that for the most part, the carrots and sticks available to party leaders that we detailed in DtC remain powerful incentives. I expect more episodic than consistent cases of MPs getting up out of turn and offside of their respective parties.

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