John Bercow announced in new speaker role at BMF All Industry Conference

JOHN BERCOW ENTERED Parliament as Conservative MP for Buckingham in 1997 and was appointed Shadow Chief Treasury and then Work and Pensions Secretary before resigning to support the Labour Government’s policy to allow unmarried gay and heterosexual couples to adopt. He is, however, best known as Speaker Bercow.

Having been elected to the role with a mission to “strengthen the backbenches and recognise that Parliament is more than a rubber-stamping operation for the government of the day”, he built a reputation as a reformer and was re-elected three times. During his decade long tenure he extended the time for PMQs and increased the use of “Urgent Questions”, requiring Ministers to make 685 statements on pressing issues.

His determination to champion the rights of Parliament inevitably attracted supporters and detractors, notably during the Brexit debates when he dismissed accusations of bias saying his role was to stand up for the rights of the House of Commons.

As Speaker Bercow, John had to be neutral but now there are no such constraints on his views, which should make for a memorable Conference address. As well as his Saturday morning speaking session, John will also join BMF members on Friday night’s Dine-Around.

John Newcomb, BMF CEO said: “In the year that the UK begins a new relationship with the European Union and in the wake of the disruption caused by Covid- 19, we are delighted that John Bercow, who was at the centre of Parliament for a decade will share

his opinions with Conference. “This session always draws a full house, and John follows in the footsteps of other political heavyweights including Michael Portillo in 2013, Alistair Campbell (2015), Paddy Ashdown (2017) and John Prescott (2019). I have no doubt that John’s address will once again be one of the highlights of our Conference.” The dual-centre BMF All Industry Conference 2021 takes place in Harrogate and York from 17-20 June. The final merchant places and supplier packages are selling out fast. Book yours at or contact The headline sponsor for the second year is the Crystal Group. Other key sponsors include ACO, BMN, Kerridge Commercial Systems, Knauf Insulation, Marshalls, Marsh Industries, Rockwool, SIG and Xtratherm. John Bercow, the first Speaker of the House of Commons since World War II to keep order in front of four Prime Ministers, will take on a very different speaking role at the BMF All Industry Conference 2021 next June.

Clean air in Leeds, Birmingham & Bath

LEEDS CITY COUNCIL has told the BMF it will no longer proceed with a Clean Air Zone. A combination of less car use as people work from home, more owners switching to ultra- low emission vehicles, and other reasons on means pollution is below legal limits - and not likely

to exceed them again - even if traffic returns to previous levels.

Leeds was due to introduce a Class B CAZ in which HGVs would pay £50 a day if they did not meet the Euro 6 diesel standard. The Council reviewed its forecasts to calculate if pollution would breach the legal limits. Air quality has improved sufficiently and is far cleaner


nowadays. There is no longer a compelling reason to have a CAZ. Leeds, in conjunction with the Department for Environment, has decided it will not go ahead. But Zones are due next year in Bath and Birmingham. Unless you operate an exempt vehicle, you will face these daily charges:

• Bath - Class C Zone - charges on N1 vehicles £9 and N2 & N3 vehicles £100;

• Birmingham - Class D Zone - chargs of cars & LGVs £8 and HGVs £50;

Please familiarise yourself with the boundaries and exemptions by visiting the councils’ websites.

SNP looks beyond Brexit

THE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT’S handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and the ongoing Brexit negotiations were the main topics when the BMF met the Leader of the SNP at Westminster last month. The BMF took part in the invitation-only conference call to hear Ian Blackford MP, SNP Member for Ross, Skye & Lochaber, look beyond Hogmanay to outline the political situation and state of the Union.

Mr Blackford, a former investment banker at Nat West and Deutsche Bank, said that fisheries and state aid were (for Scotland) the two biggest obstacles to be overcome. The UK Government was taking a hard negotiating line that risked a ‘no deal’ Brexit that the SNP is opposed to, he said, and repudiated 10 Downing Street over the Internal Market Bill. London ministers’ intention to break international law in relation to Northern Ireland was ‘disgraceful’.

Looking ahead to next May’s Holyrood Election, Mr Blackford reminded his guests that in its 21-year existence, Labour was in power for 8 years before the SNP began its 13-year reign. He confirmed SNP policy is to apply to re-join the EU at some future date as an independent nation. November 2020

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