British speaker resigns over expenses row
Posted on: 07:41 PM IST May 19, 2009
London: The Speaker of Britain's lower house of parliament on Tuesday announced he will resign next month over his handling of a scandal on MPs' expenses, becoming the first British Speaker to be forced out of office in over 300 years.
"Since I came to the house 30 years ago I have always felt that the House is at its best when it is united. In order that unity can be maintained, I have decided that I will relinquish the office of Speaker on Sunday, the 21st of June," Michael Martin told the House of Commons.
A new Speaker will be elected June 22, said Martin, whose position and neutrality came under a cloud after he attacked two senior MPs during a Commons debate on dubious expenses claimed by MPs.
Instead of backing calls to discipline errant MPs, Martin called for a police investigation into media leaks on MPs' expenses - leading to 23 MPs bringing a no-confidence motion against him.
Martin is the first British Speaker to be forced out since 1695 and is also expected to step down as an MP.
Also on Tuesday, former Conservative minister Douglas Hogg, who claimed 2,200 pounds of taxpayers' cash for cleaning a moat in his country estate, said he would stand down as an MP at the next general election.
Shaid Malik, a government minister, has stepped down for claiming over 16,000 pounds in interest on his home loan, 18 months after he had paid off the mortgage.