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Michael Martin:House of Commons on banana peel?

Martin was reported to have resigned owing to a backlash over excessive expense claims by his fellow lawmakers.  He was said not to have been…

Martin was reported to have resigned owing to a backlash over excessive expense claims by his fellow lawmakers.  He was said not to have been caught up in any recent revelation about the legislators’ expenses such as reimbursements for chandeliers, moat cleaning and mortgage payments that had infuriated the taxpayers. Rather, he was forced out of office for allegedly creating an atmosphere in which such expenses were allowed, especially by “kicking against reforms designed to make legislators’ expenses more transparent and fighting to block publication of the expense claims”.

According to the record, this is the first time in three centuries a British House Speaker has been bundled off the exalted seat.

Martin, who was said to have earlier ignored calls to resign, invoking parliamentary procedure to stall debate on a motion of no confidence aimed at forcing him out, wrote a short letter to the House, stressing that he would leave the post on July 21, 2009 to maintain ‘unity’ in the House. “This will allow the House to proceed to elect a new speaker. This is all I have to say on this matter”, he was quoted as saying.  

No doubt, Martin’s ‘downfall’ lends credence to the fact that banana peel is a universal phenomenon. But it is noteworthy and perhaps, praiseworthy that the British House of Commons’ lawmakers neither exchanged blows nor threw chairs before Martin called it a quit.