Speaker Bercow Prepares To Spin Kelly Recommendations

(Press Gazette) – COMMONS SPEAKER John Bercow has appointed a former journalist as a special advisor on a salary that could be worth up to £107,000.

Tim Hames, former chief leader writer for The Times, has been hired by Bercow to deal with the media during the aftermath of recommendations on MPs’ expenses made by sleaze watchdog Sir Christopher Kelly.

He will be a Grade One status special advisor, paid between £87,000 and £107,000 a year. It is thought to be the first time a Speaker has taken on a staff member with that title.

Hames told the Press Association he would start work on 2 November and would spend around a third of his time dealing with the media.

Sir Christopher, the chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, intends to publish his final proposals on MPs’ expenses in October.

Hames said: ‘The House’s reputation is not what we would like it to be; I’m making the case that despite all that has happened over the last few months, Parliament is a good thing.’

He will initially take on the role as a ‘short-term arrangement’ until next summer.

Hames said he was probably not the first special adviser to a Commons Speaker; but the first one that had had his role formalised.

‘I’m absolutely sure that past Speakers have had someone act as an informal adviser in their staff,’ he said.

He will step down as head of communications for lobby group the British Venture Capital Association at the end of October.

Bercow, Tory MP for Buckingham, was elected Commons Speaker in June.

Last week senior UKIP MEP Nigel Farage announced he would stand against Bercow at the next general election.

By convention, Speakers remain politically neutral, and the main parties do not field candidates in their constituencies.

A Commons spokeswoman said Hames would help Bercow in his role as an ‘ambassador for Parliament.’

Bercow was keen to promote Parliament as much as possible, and Mr Hames would be aiding him in an ‘outreach’ programme for local communities and schools, she said.

… (Telegraph, 08/09/2009) – The Speaker should be above using spin