Anorak News | Sitting Down On The Job

Sitting Down On The Job

by | 7th, June 2006

As the Times reports, what can only loosely be called a race to become the first Speaker of the House in its 600-year history is being contested by nine runners with an average of 65 years.

Not that age should be a barrier to their performing the role with style and grace – such are the embalming and restorative properties of gin that the winner could be a hit, and survive in the post for some decades.

But who will win the job? As the paper says, the post commands a £102,685 salary (falling to £101,668 in the Guardian) a 33,990 accommodation supplement, a £10,000 black-and-gold robe for bath time and official appearances, and two secretaries.

For this package, the Speaker will have to sit on the Woolsack for three hours a day. As one contender, Lord Redesdale, a Liberal Democrat, tells the Times: “I pledge, as Speaker, to do as little as possible in the chamber, apart from sitting on the Woolsack.”

But there is more. Aside from sitting down and fending off sleep, the Speaker will be expected to shake hands with foreign dignitaries (although whether this can be done seated is a moot point).

And the new Speaker will not have to wear a wig – although anyone who wishes is welcome to put on an oversized pink afro or something befitting the holder of this new office.

The job sounds just dandy. And to apply for it, Lords had to explain in 75 words why the job is for them and they are for the job.

The Times has taken a look at what the 730 members of the Upper House have produced.

We have already heard from Lord Redesdale, who goes on to say that outside the House he “would resist all attempts to increase the power of the Speaker”.

Lord Boston of Faversham, 76, a Crossbencher, begins: “Nothing is more satisfying than serving this House…” Lord Faversham is 76, an age where you should take satisfaction wherever you can.

And so it goes. And in reading these pitches, we have come up with a much fairer way to decide who should win – just see who speaks the least.

In order, the agonists run:

Lord Redesdale, Liberal Democrat – 44 words

Baroness Fookes, Conservative – 58 words

Lord Boston of Faversham, Crossbencher – 68 words

Lord Grenfell, Labour – 69 words

Lord Elton, Conservative – 71 words

Baroness Hayman, Labour – 73 words

Countess of Mar, Crossbencher – 73 words

Lord Richard, Labour – 73 words

Viscount Ullswater, Conservative – 75 words Lords Redesdale is duly elected professional Woolsack sitter…

Posted: 7th, June 2006 | In: Uncategorized Comment | TrackBack | Permalink