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'I'm not a sex symbol,' insists John Bercow

John Bercow has insisted he is not a sex symbol in a candid interview.

He was responding to claims made by his wife Sally that his high-profile role as Commons speaker had made him more attractive.

John Bercow has insisted he is not a sex symbol. Credit: PA

"I have most certainly not become a sex symbol," he told The Times Magazine. "She [his wife] does have a very good sense of humour."

The 51-year-old, who is 5ft 6in tall, also said he was "never bothered about being short".

"Whereas nobody these days would regard it as acceptable to criticise someone on grounds of race or creed or disability or sexual orientation, somehow it seems to be acceptable to comment on someone's height, or lack of it.

"Does it affect me, personally? Not at all. It's just low grade, intellectually substandard and schoolboyish."

He also referred to scrutiny of the couple's marriage, which has hit the headlines a number of times over the years.

"Sally and I have our own approach to marriage and we are perfectly comfortable in our own skin," he said.

Bercow to set up helpline for staff 'harassed by MPs'

Formal warnings are to be given to MPs about sexual harassment of staff and proposition of researchers, the Sunday Times (£) reported.

According to the newspaper, an anonymous 24-hour helpline for victims will also be set up by Common Speaker John Bercow.

Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow Credit: PA

The measures have been drawn up by the House of Commons commission, a committee of MPs chaired by Bercow.

After the next election, all new MPs will be given training in employment law and how to treat staff. They will also be given warnings about sexual harassment.

Speaker: Party leaders must do more about rowdy MPs

Party leaders are not doing enough to get rowdy MPs under control at PMQs, the Speaker of the House of Commons told Radio 4's PM programme.

In a wide-ranging interview covering MPs expenses and sexual harassment in Parliament, John Bercow criticised all party leaders for not delivering a "specific commitment" on their members behaviour.

I have heard back from the party leaders.

There is a general sense, 'Yes Mr Speaker you make a good point and of course we must behave well and try to impress the public and give serious consideration to what people think', but there's not yet much by way of a specific commitment."

I know there are people in the Westminster beltway, including in the press gallery, who think, 'Well, what's the Speaker moaning about? Why is he so neurotic? This is the way people like it'.

To which my answer is no, that's the way you like it.

– John Bercow


MPs put off PMQs by bad behaviour, warns speaker

MPs are increasingly put off Prime Ministers Questions (PMQs) by the "histrionics and cacophony of noise", the Speaker of the House of Commons has warned.

John Bercow has to frequently call the house to order during PMQs. Credit: PA

John Bercow said women MPs and "seasoned parliamentarians" had given up attending the weekly question and answer session because of bad behaviour by other members of the house.

Mr Bercow said Parliament was "spray painting its own shop window" by appearing to generate higher decibel levels than heavy metal band Deep Purple, regarded as the loudest band in the world in some quarters.

He told BBC Radio 4's PM programme there are "down-market parts of the media" who would "positively relish" it if there was a fight on the floor of the Commons chamber.

Bercow: Noise in Parliament 'puts MPs off contributing'

The House of Commons Speaker has criticised the "histrionics and cacophony of noise" during Prime Minister's Questions, saying it puts MPs off contributing.

Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow calls for order during Prime Minister's Questions. Credit: PA

John Bercow, who is responsible for maintaining order in the Commons, said Parliament was "spray painting its own shop window" by appearing to generate higher decibel levels than Deep Purple.

He said that despite recognising that behaviour must improve, the party leaders had yet to make a specific commitment to help do so.

BBC Radio 4's PM programme said Mr Bercow told them that "seasoned parliamentarians" boycotted PMQs out of embarrassment and that some female MPs did not want to take part in the session.

Bercow: MPs expenses were 'displacement activity'

MPs fiddled their expenses as a "displacement activity" because Parliament had become irrelevant and ineffective, according to Speaker John Bercow.

Mr Bercow suggested the 2009 scandal was as much a symptom of decades of decline as "malice or corruption" as he urged action to ensure Westminster kept up with the modern world.

Bercow: MPs expenses were 'displacement activity' Credit: PA/PA Wire

In a speech to the Hansard Society, Mr Bercow said that after he became Speaker in June 2009 he feared for the future of parliament."The blunt truth is that the expenses debacle was a particularly embarrassing layer of icing on an especially unappetising cake.

"The reality in 2009 is that the House of Commons as a meaningful political institution, an effective legislature, had been in decline for some decades."

Mr Bercow said the Commons had become, "little more than a cross between a rubber stamp and a talking shop", which:

"Had taken to collective activity such as the imaginative interpretation of what might be a legitimate expense claim as much as an odd form of displacement activity as out of any shared sense of malice or corruption."

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