John Bercow, Commons Speaker, Rebukes Nick Clegg For Announcing Youth Unemployment Scheme To Press Before Parliament
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has been rebuked by Commons Speaker John Bercow for announcing his new scheme to tackle youth unemployment to the press before MPs.
Mr Bercow said the duty to make announcements to Parliament was "an obligation upon all ministers, without exception".
Mr Clegg has announced the creation of a £1 billion Youth Contract aimed at helping jobless young people get back into work or education.
The move comes the day after official figures revealed that a record 1,163,000 16 to 24-year-olds were "Neets" (not in education, employment or training) in the third quarter of this year.
The measure was to be officially announced to Parliament in a written ministerial statement, but Mr Clegg had toured TV and radio studios and briefed newspapers before Parliament sat.
Tory Peter Bone, the MP for Wellingborough and a staunch defender of Parliament's role, said: "Today in the media the Deputy Prime Minister has been expounding a new Government policy, a major announcement about billions of pounds being spent on getting people into work.
"There is, allegedly, a written statement but I haven't seen it, it wasn't available to Parliament at the start. It does seem to me that really that announcement should be made first to the House and not to the media."
Mr Bercow said: "I have seen no such written ministerial statement, at the time that I came into the Chamber none was available.
"I note what you said about media coverage and I reiterate the point that I have repeatedly made from the chair, which is that statements of Government policy should be made first to the House of Commons.
"That is an obligation upon all ministers, without exception."