UK Speaker to address calls for his head


Michael Martin has faced calls from lawmakers to step down as Speaker.
The speaker of Britain’s House of Commons plans to make a statement Tuesday afternoon amid calls for him to resign, a spokesman for the House of Commons told CNN.

The subject of Speaker Michael Martin’s speech wasn’t clear. But he has come under increasing pressure from MPs to step down in connection with a widening scandal surrounding lawmakers’ expenses. Martin has so far rebuffed the criticism; he issued a public apology Monday but refused to step down. A cross-party meeting was planned for Tuesday afternoon to discuss the expenses scandal, the House of Commons spokesman said. British media quoted sources as saying Martin planned to resign, but the Speaker’s Office, the ruling Labour Party, and the prime minister’s office refused to confirm the report. Watch more on voters’ anger » No speaker has been forced out of office since 1695. The speaker traditionally chairs debates and ensures protocol is followed. But part of the reason MPs are now focusing their anger on Martin is that his office also handles expense claims. What do you think about the expense scandal Critics say he allowed claims to run amok and failed to recognize the depth of public disgust at the amounts being claimed — into the tens of thousands of dollars for some lawmakers. Nick Clegg, the leader of the small opposition Liberal Democrat party, has called for Martin to resign.

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Politicians across the political spectrum have been under fire after weeks of front-page headlines revealing their expense claims. They included requests for reimbursements for mortgages that had been paid off; multiple members of the same family claiming the same expenses; and reimbursement for lavish home furnishings. Watch London cabbies speak out against lawmakers » The justice minister, Shahid Malik, resigned from the Cabinet over his claims, which he insisted were within the allowable limits. The Labour Party cut ties with MP Elliot Morley, a former Cabinet minister, over his expense claims.

The expenses scandal came to light in a series of recent front-page reports in The Daily Telegraph newspaper. The claims were to be made public in the summer, but the Telegraph obtained them early. Many lawmakers put in the spotlight by the newspaper insist they broke no rules.

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