Michael Martin, Baron Martin of Springburn
The Lord Martin of Springburn
Lord Martin in the House of Lords, 2015
|Member of the House of Lords|
25 August 2009 – 29 April 2018
|Speaker of the House of Commons|
23 October 2000 – 21 June 2009
|Preceded by||Betty Boothroyd|
|Succeeded by||John Bercow|
|First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means|
14 May 1997 – 23 October 2000
|Preceded by||Geoffrey Lofthouse|
|Succeeded by||Sylvia Heal|
|Member of Parliament |
for Glasgow North East
Glasgow Springburn (1979–2005)
3 May 1979 – 22 June 2009
|Preceded by||Richard Buchanan|
|Succeeded by||Willie Bain|
Michael John Martin
3 July 1945
|Died||29 April 2018 (aged 72)|
Michael John Martin, Baron Martin of Springburn, PC (3 July 1945 – 29 April 2018) was a British Labour politician who was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Glasgow Springburn from 1979 to 2005, and then for Glasgow North East until 2009. He was elected as Speaker of the House of Commons in 2000, remaining in the office for nine years until his involuntary resignation in 2009.
On his election to the post of Speaker in 2000, he was the first Roman Catholic to serve in the role since the Reformation. He resigned from the position on 21 June 2009 as a result of diminishing parliamentary and public confidence owing to his role in the expenses scandal. He also stood down from the House of Commons on the following day.
Martin was born on 3 July 1945 in William Street in Glasgow, the son of a merchant seaman and a school cleaner. He was one of five children, and was brought up in a tenement community in Anderston. The family later moved to Springburn when Michael was fourteen years old. He attended St Patrick's Boys' School, leaving a few days before his fifteenth birthday to become an apprentice sheet-metal worker at a factory called Heatovent. He worked at a railway yard in Springburn for the train engine makers North British Caledonian Railways and became involved in the National Union of Sheet Metal Workers and Coppersmiths. He joined the Labour Party when aged 21. He worked as a sheet-metal worker with Rolls-Royce from 1960 to 1976, and  worked at the plant at Hillington. By his mid-twenties, he was a full-time shop steward with the Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers.
At the age of 26, in 1973, Martin was elected as a Labour councillor of the Glasgow Corporation, representing Firfield ward. In 1974, he was elected to the City of Glasgow District Council, representing Balornock ward. He was a trade union organiser with the National Union of Public Employees (NUPE) between 1976 and 1979.
Early parliamentary career
In 1978, Martin was selected by the Labour Party out of five prospective candidates to replace Richard Buchanan. He was elected as the Member of Parliament for Glasgow Springburn at the 1979 general election. He was a supporter of Roy Hattersley and Denis Healey, who were ideologically on the right-wing of the party and with whom he served as a Parliamentary Private Secretary from 1980 to 1983. He was re-elected in 1983, 1987, 1992 and 1997. Associated with the right wing of the Labour Party, he was socially conservative on issues such as abortion and homosexuality. In 1994, he was one of thirteen Labour MPs who voted against the reduction of the age of consent for homosexuals from 21 to 18.
He served as Chairman of the Scottish Grand Committee from 1987 to 1997. He sat on the Speaker's Panel of Chairmen 1987–2000. He was appointed as First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means (one of three Deputy Speakers) in May 1997.
In July 2000 Betty Boothroyd announced that she would retire as Speaker. An election was held in October of that year and twelve MPs put their names forward as potential successors. Many observers had considered the Conservative MP Sir George Young to be the favourite as he had support from both the Conservative and Labour leadership, who viewed it as the Conservatives' 'turn' to have a Speaker elected from their benches. However, many backbench MPs, particularly those from the Labour Party (who held a large majority in the House at the time), viewed Young as someone who had too recently been a member of his party's front bench team and who was, therefore, not sufficiently in touch with ordinary MPs. (Young had stepped down from the Shadow Cabinet just before the election for a new Speaker and had been a member of the Cabinet in the Conservative government during the previous parliament.) In the end, the contest was determined by a series of votes that were held during a process that lasted more than six hours on 23 October 2000. Martin's rivals were eliminated one by one and Young's candidacy was rejected by the House.
Martin was elected as the 156th Speaker on 23 October 2000, becoming the first Roman Catholic to serve in the role since the Reformation. In accordance with a long-standing convention, Martin resigned from the Labour Party. He did not adopt some of the traditional clothing associated with the Speaker role, instead appearing without wig, silk stockings and knee breeches. His Glaswegian accent led to his being nicknamed "Gorbals Mick" by Quentin Letts, after the working-class district of Glasgow, although he was actually born on the other side of the river from the Gorbals and represented a constituency a few miles away.
Martin's initial appointment as Speaker occurred against a recent pattern in the House where the post of Speaker had alternated between the two main political parties (the Conservative Party and the Labour Party). His predecessor, Boothroyd, had been a Labour MP. It was argued that the new Speaker might have been expected to emerge from the Conservative benches.
He was re-elected as a MP in the 2001 general election. The Scottish National Party defied convention by fielding a candidate against him in that election. After being returned in the general election, he did not face a contest for the chair- no previous speakers that were returned to the Commons after a general election have. He was re-elected as Speaker, with Young nominating him.
In the 2005 general election, he stood in the new constituency of Glasgow North East, with the SNP again fielding a candidate against him. He was returned to Parliament. He was unopposed in the election to be Speaker. Shortly after the 2005 election, when the Liberal Democrat MP Patsy Calton entered the Commons for the last time to affirm her allegiance from a wheelchair and sign the register, Martin broke with tradition and left the Speaker's Chair to shake her hand and kiss her on the cheek, saying "Welcome home Patsy". Calton, who had just been re-elected, had terminal breast cancer and died three days later.
On 17 February 2006, Martin had angioplasty at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary for blocked coronary arteries. His office confirmed this on 26 February and indicated that he would be absent from his duties for several weeks. He returned to the Chair on 18 April.
Prime Minister's Questions
On 1 November 2006, during Prime Minister's Questions, Martin caused uproar in the House of Commons by ruling out of order a question from Leader of the Opposition David Cameron in which he challenged Tony Blair over the future leadership of the Labour Party. Martin stated that the purpose of Prime Minister's Questions was for the House to question the Prime Minister on the actions of the government. This caused such dissent amongst MPs that Martin threatened to suspend the session. Cameron then re-worded the question so he asked about Tony Blair's future as Prime Minister rather than leader of the Labour Party, which Martin accepted. Conservative MPs threatened to walk out if a similar event occurred in the future.
In 2007, Martin used public money to employ lawyers in challenging negative press stories; media law firm Carter-Ruck was engaged for three months at a cost of more than £20,000. The use of public money was criticised by the Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker as a "very expensive" way to issue press releases; and by the Taxpayers' Alliance. Martin was also criticised at the same time for trying to block the publication of details of MPs' £5 million-a-year travel expenses under the Freedom of Information Act.
On 24 February 2008, John Lyon, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, was asked by the Taxpayers' Alliance to investigate whether Martin had abused parliamentary expenses and allowances. Lyon was obliged to examine all such complaints although the Commissioner could have ruled that the complaint was unfounded. This followed a week in which Martin's spokesman, the veteran Whitehall communications chief Mike Granatt of PR agency Luther Pendragon, resigned after admitting that he had unwittingly misled The Mail on Sunday over more than £4,000 in taxi expenses incurred by the Speaker's wife, Mary Martin. Granatt blamed unnamed officials, but not the Speaker, for falsely informing him that the expenses were legitimate because Martin's wife had been accompanied by an official on shopping trips to buy food for receptions. It turned out that she had in fact been accompanied by her housekeeper, and that catering for such receptions is the responsibility of the parliamentary caterers.
On 29 March 2008, The Daily Telegraph revealed that refurbishment of Michael Martin's official residence, Speaker's House, had amounted to £1.7 million over seven years. The house is located inside the Palace of Westminster. On 14 May 2009, The Daily Telegraph reported that Martin had claimed £1,400 for using chauffeur-driven cars that included visits to Celtic Park, home of Celtic Football Club, and his local Job Centre.
Arrest of Damian Green
Following the arrest of Conservative immigration spokesman Damian Green in November 2008, Martin's spokesperson was asked if he had approved police searching Green's Commons office without a search warrant, and replied: "There is a process to be followed and that was followed." When Parliament reconvened a few days later, Martin read a statement to MPs.
Declaration of British Council expenses
In 2009, Martin was involved in a row over expenses incurred by MPs on taxpayer-funded British Council trips. In 2008 Conservative MP Mark Lancaster flew business class to Bangkok with the British Council for a two-day conference, at a cost of £5,018. Labour MP Sally Keeble flew out economy class and returned business class at a cost of £2,452. MPs must normally declare any hospitality they receive from outside organisations, and the British Council does not appear on a list of bodies whose gifts are exempt from the requirement. Martin signed a special certificate preventing the release of information about these trips, citing "Parliamentary privilege".
On 12 May 2009, the BBC reported that Michael Martin was under pressure to resign. On 17 May, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said that Michael Martin should stand down, saying he had become an obstacle to much-needed reform of Parliament. On 19 May, Douglas Carswell tabled a motion of no confidence, which was signed by 22 MPs. Later that day, Martin announced he would resign from his position as Speaker of the House of Commons effective as of 21 June 2009. If the motion had been successful in a vote, Martin would have been the first Speaker to be forced out of office by a motion of no confidence since Sir John Trevor in 1695. Martin said of his decision to resign:
Since I came to this 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 21 June. This will allow the House to proceed to elect a new Speaker on Monday 22 June. That is all I have to say on this matter.
He was made the Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead to be able to stand down as an MP on the same date,[note 1] forcing a by-election in his constituency of Glasgow North East. An election for Speaker was held on 22 June, which was won by John Bercow.
Speakers are normally elevated to the House of Lords when they retire, and the government said it considered this a "formality". A vetting panel for the House of Lords pointed out to the Prime Minister that nominees had to "enhance rather than diminish" the standing of the house, which some Labour MPs interpreted as a slur against Martin. Sixteen MPs signed a Commons motion requesting that the peer responsible, Lord Jay, withdraw his comment. In accordance with tradition, as soon as Martin's successor as Speaker was installed, the first motion passed by the House of Commons was a resolution directing that a humble Address be presented to The Queen, asking her "to confer some signal mark of Her Royal favour" upon Martin "for his eminent services during the important period in which he presided with such distinguished ability and dignity in the Chair of this House". The "signal mark of Her Royal favour" is traditionally the grant of a peerage.
Life peerage and death
Martin was created a life peer on 25 August 2009 as Baron Martin of Springburn, in the City of Glasgow. He was introduced in the House of Lords on 13 October 2009. Like previous Speakers elevated to the Lords, he sat as a Crossbench peer.
Martin took a leave of absence from the House of Lords on 13 September 2017. After a short illness, he died on 29 April 2018. Tributes were paid by current and former politicians, including Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, his successor and incumbent Speaker John Bercow, and former Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
Martin met Mary McLay at the Heatovent factory, where she worked as an assembly worker and they got married in 1966. The couple had a son and a daughter. His son Paul Martin was the Labour Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for Glasgow Springburn from 1999 to 2011, then for the Glasgow Provan constituency from 2011 until his defeat at the 2016 Scottish election.
Styles of address
- 1945–1979: Mr Michael J. Martin
- 1979–2000: Mr Michael J. Martin MP
- 2000–2009: The Rt Hon Michael J. Martin MP
- 2009: The Rt Hon Michael J. Martin
- 2009–2018: The Rt Hon The Lord Martin of Springburn PC
- Members of Parliament are not at liberty to resign their seats because they are given a trust to represent their constituencies; however, taking an "office of profit under the Crown" such as the stewardship of the Manor of Northstead disqualifies an individual from sitting in the House of Commons, and as such is often used by MPs to effectively resign their seats.
- "Profile: Michael Martin". BBC News Online. 17 May 2009. Retrieved 19 May 2009.
- "Speaker quits 'for sake of unity'". BBC News. 19 May 2009. Retrieved 21 March 2010.
- "Manor of Northstead" (Press release). HM Treasury. 22 June 2009. Archived from the original on 7 April 2010. Retrieved 14 January 2011.
- "John Egan meets Glasgow Springburn MP Michael Martin, Speaker of the House of Commons". Kirkintilloch Herald. 17 September 2003. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
- "Martin of Springburn, Baron, (Michael John Martin) (born 3 July 1945)". Who's Who. Oxford University Press. 1 December 2007. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.26818. (Subscription required (help)). Cite uses deprecated parameter
- Roth, Andrew (19 March 2001). "Michael Martin. Glasgow Springburn (1979-)". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
- Summers, Deborah (10 May 2006). "'I think of doctors like mechanics with a car. And I've had a fine-tune'". The Herald. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
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- "Lord Martin of Springburn". Parliament of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
- "Obituary - Michael Martin, former Commons speaker criticised for handling of expenses scandal". The Herald. 29 April 2018. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
- "Gay Age of Consent: The vote on legality at 18". London: The Independent. 23 February 1994. Retrieved 30 March 2010.
- "Speaker's election sparks reform calls". BBC News. 24 October 2000. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
- White, Michael (24 October 2000). "Ex-shop steward Martin is Speaker". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
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- "Speaker Martin re-elected by MPs". BBC News. 11 May 2005. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
- Curran, Sean (19 May 2009). "Farewell then, Speaker Martin". BBC News. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
- "LibDem MP taken by ambulance to swear oath loses her long battle with cancer". The Herald. 30 May 2005. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
- Peev, Gerri; Gray, Louise (19 April 2006). "Health Secretary uses Speaker's return to take pot-shot at Scots NHS". The Scotsman. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
- "Speaker Martin has heart surgery". BBC News Online. 26 February 2006.
- "Speaker and Cameron dispute". BBC News. 1 November 2006. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
- "Speaker's legal costs criticised". BBC News. 11 October 2007. Retrieved 16 May 2009.
- Watt, Nicholas (25 February 2008). "Pressure mounts on Speaker amid complaints over his expenses". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
- Sylvester, Rachel; Winnett, Robert (29 March 2008). "Michael Martin's home gets £1.7m makeover". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
- Hope, Christopher (14 May 2009). "Michael Martin: Speaker spent £1,400 on chauffeurs to his local job centre and Celtic Park". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 15 May 2009.
- "PM had 'no knowledge' of arrest". BBC News Online. 29 November 2008. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
- Summers, Deborah (4 December 2008). "Police question Speaker's account of Damian Green affair". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
- Hastings, Chris (7 February 2009). "Speaker Michael Martin in secrecy row over British Council trips". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 25 May 2009.
- "Speaker faces anger over expenses". BBC News Online. 12 May 2009.
- Helm, Toby (17 May 2009). "Nick Clegg calls for Speaker to resign over expenses storm". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
- Members' allowances (research paper 09/60) (PDF) (Report). House of Commons Library. 25 June 2009. p. 46. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 April 2010. Retrieved 21 March 2010.
A motion, in the name of Douglas Carswell and 22 other Members, entitled "No Confidence in the Speaker"
- Norton, Philip (21 October 2009). "A note on the Speakership". lordsoftheblog.net. Retrieved 21 March 2010.
- "House of Commons Hansard debates for 19 May 2009 (pt 0001)". Hansard. 19 May 2009. Retrieved 20 May 2009.
- "Speaker's Statement: 19 May 2009". Theyworkforyou.com mysociety.org. 19 May 2009. Retrieved 20 May 2009.
- "Commons Speaker Michael Martin Resigns". Sky News. 19 May 2009.
- "Tory MP Bercow is elected Speaker". BBC News. 22 June 2009. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
- Gordon Rayner and Rosa Prince (20 May 2009). "Michael Martin faces backlash over possible peerage". The Daily Telegraph. London.
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- Churcher, Joe (1 July 2009). "Ex-Speaker Michael Martin to get peerage". The Independent. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
- "House of Commons Votes and Proceedings. 22 June 2009". Parliament of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
- "Crown Office announcement". London Gazette. 28 August 2009. Retrieved 28 August 2009.
- "Ex-Commons speaker Michael Martin takes Lords seat – News – London Evening Standard".
- "Michael Martin, former Speaker of the Commons, dies aged 72". The Guardian. 29 April 2018. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
- "Ex-Commons Speaker Lord Martin dies aged 72". BBC News. 29 April 2018. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
- Hattersley, Roy (21 June 2009). "Interview. Michael Martin: 'It was when they started attacking my wife that I knew I had to go'". The Observer. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
- "Second grandchild for speaker Martin". The Herald. 26 February 2004. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Michael Martin
- Guardian Unlimited Politics – Ask Aristotle: Michael Martin MP
- TheyWorkForYou.com – Michael Martin MP
- Biography and profile in the Sunday Times 27 July 2008
- Conservative MPs accuse Speaker of bias and threaten to walk out
- Profile, broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on 24 February 2008
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
| Member of Parliament
for Glasgow Springburn
|New constituency|| Member of Parliament
for Glasgow North East
| Speaker of the House of Commons