`

Doncaster MP's year keeping the House in order

Doncaster MP Rosie Winterton. PIcture: Marie Caley
Doncaster MP Rosie Winterton. PIcture: Marie Caley
0
Have your say

She may be at the heart of the debate - but you won't catch Doncaster MP Rosie Winterton making political points in the Commons these days.

But she says she is still fighting for Doncaster and making sure issues that affect her constituents are made known to those in power.

This summer marks a year since the Doncaster Central MP switched from the roles on the Labour front and back benches for 20 years, to become Deputy Speaker.

It is a big switch for the former health minister, who was voted into the post by her other MPs after last June's general election when her predecessor Natascha Engel lost her North East Derbyshire seat.

Prior to the election, Ms Winterton, had been appointed as an international envoy by Jeremy Corbyn. Prior to that she had worked as a chief whip and a minister under Tony Blair's Government.

But when the position of deputy speaker came up, she decided to put herself up for election to the post. After campaigning among fellow MPs, she was appointed to the post, one of three deputy speakers serving under speaker John Bercow.

In landing the job, she followed in the footsteps of her predecessor, Harold Walker.

She said: "I thought it would be crucial time for parliament, with the focus on Brexit and a lot of important legislation coming through parliament. I thought as deputy speaker I could make a contribution to an important issue.

"It was a big honour to be elected. And it has been a fascinating year with all the deliberation parliament has been going through, and making sure that backbenchers get a proper say, and that the variety of views are properly expressed.

"There is a speakers' conference in the morning when we go through the business of the day and discussions about what might be coming up, for example if MPs have put any urgent queries for debate to ask ministers to come and explain something. We may grant an urgent question, like recently on Heathrow or Northern Ireland. We'll have to go into the chamber in the speaker's chair. We'll also decide the order of speakers.

"It can be hard keeping order, but the secret is pointing out that everyone has to be heard while acknowledging that feelings are running high."

The new role means she no longer votes in the lobbies or makes her point in debates as she used to. But she says it does not stop her from being table to make points to ministers, or from taking up problems which her constituents need resolving. She has as much time to lobby as she did as an MP on the Labour benches.

Traditionally, ministers are responsive to requests for meetings on constituency issues involving the speakers.

"It is just a different role in making parliament work for the good of the people and making sure it reflects the different views in the country at that moment," she added. "I think I'm doing this job at a time when parliament is very much a strength as we look were the country is going to go with Brexit. We are taking part in history in the making."