POLITICS
28/11/2013 04:40 GMT

John Bercow Says 'Carnage' Of PMQs Damaging Parliament's Reputation

PA/PA Archive
Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow gestures during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London.

The rowdy behaviour of MPs during prime minister's questions risks causing "carnage" to the reputation of parliament and party leaderships need to clamp down, John Bercow has said.

In a speech in parliament on Wednesday evening, the Speaker said: "Questions to the prime minister remains, in the view of many people, something closer to a blood sport than to the type of serious inquiry that they would favour."

Bercow admonishes MPs, including ministers, for their behaviour during PMQs on almost a weekly basis. There have also been extremely tense moments when the Speaker has told off or interrupted David Cameron for the way he answers questions.

In a question and answer session, the Speaker said: "The fact the prime minister has to come to parliament to answer questions each week is something for which we should give cheer. We should not be too ready to knock it certainly not to rubbish it."

But he added: "When the decibel level exceeds anything that Deep Purple would have dreamt in their 1970s heyday as the loudest band in the world, that seems to me to, if not to inflict reputation carnage, at any rate to cause us to spray paint our own shop window. I would like to see a somewhat more restrained and dignified discussion taking place."

"It would be good if, as David Cameron said some time ago, there could be a change form Punch and Judy politics and as Ed Miliband said some time ago, there could be more reasoned discourse."

And he said the party chief whips should discipline their MPs to stop the "orchestrated barracking and constant unremitting cacophony".

Bercow also said a lot of the media were wrong to think he was being too "fussy" about the behaviour and noise during PMQs. "They conflate and confuse their own enthusiasm with it with some idea the public want it," he said. "I think they are wrong, I think the Westminster beltway may think it's great but a lot of the public think, 'come on'."

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