Sir Lindsay Hoyle Has Been a Breath of Fresh Air in the Chair. Here’s Why.

James Potts writes a profile on the Speaker of the House, Sir Lindsay Hoyle.

Having patiently waited in the wings for the best part of a decade, Sir Lindsay Hoyle has made quietly made an impressive start to his tenure as Speaker. His pledge to bring calm to the Chamber, choosing his battles wisely and opting not to rile the Government has meant he's been a breath of fresh air in the chair.

Compared to his predecessor, John Bercow, who tended to relish a fight with the Government, drag out interruptions and Points of Order and theatrically exaggerate member's names, all of which did him no favours, Hoyle calls them with a swift no nonsense approach which is really rather refreshing. It's this more serious and businesslike approach, dealing with members with "humour and a quiet word" that shows his eagerness to get through business. Don't be fooled though, he also isn't afraid to be tough and cut off members for taking too long (an essential skill for any Speaker). His vast experience as Deputy Speaker really shows in these situations and was a key part of him getting elected when he asked members to judge him by his record in the chair. Hoyle also hasn't disclosed how he voted in the EU Referendum, which is key as it shows he is keen to be as an arbiter of proceedings.

He also appeared to be continuing some of the reforming agenda started by Bercow, but in the light of the Coronavirus crisis, he has led the way. For example, bringing hybrid meetings so that Parliamentary scrutiny of the Government can continue has been a huge step forward. At the time of writing the technology has worked reasonably well and fingers crossed it continues to do so. Remote voting has also being successfully implemented, which has been made necessary to continue business as social distancing is going to be around for a while. This is a much overdue reform and allows Members who are not able to be in the Commons in person to still participate and vote. If these changes are made permanent, it would be a huge step forward in how the Commons works.

These changes are a massive alteration in the way the house operates, dragging it from the 19th Century up to date and they could be made permanent so that members can attend and vote remotely going forward. But he is also keen to promote the rights of Parliament, which was arguably one of Bercow's better qualities. Hoyle will hopefully continue to grant Urgent Questions to the same level going forward. The Speaker’s role is to be Parliament’s champion and Speaker Hoyle has made a good start. Let’s hope it continues.
James Potts is a Young Fabian and Chair of the Young Fabian Devolution & Local Government Network.
Follow him on Twitter @JamesPotts 
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