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Speaker to tell MPs why he chose clerk

COMMONS Speaker John Bercow will today face MPs for the first time since a row erupted over his recommended candidate for the post of clerk of the House.

He is expected to make a statement in the chamber amid growing disquiet among critics of the choice of Australian Carol Mills, who is currently head of the Department of Parliamentary Services (DPS) in Canberra.

Members have voiced concerns about her lack of knowledge of Westminster procedures and believe she is too inexperienced for the prestigious £200,000-a-year position, which combines the clerk's duties as a key constitutional adviser with the role of the Commons chief executive.

She has been dubbed the "Canberra caterer" because her responsibilities at the Australian senate are said to include managing kitchens and cleaning.

In an effort to defuse the row, Mr Bercow, who is expected to visit Australia next month, has indicated he wants to split the functions into two jobs, but the suggestion has failed to appease the critics led by Tory Jesse Norman.

The Hereford and South Herefordshire MP has submitted a motion calling for Parliament to be given the opportunity to scrutinise the appointment. It has since been signed by 84 members from across the political spectrum.

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