The British government has denied putting pressure on parliamentary members to vote for Margaret Beckett as the new Speaker of the House of Commons.
The former foreign secretary is the bookies’ favourite for a post that will have restoring public confidence in a scandal-ridden parliament as a top priority. Michael Martin stood down as Speaker after he was heavily criticised over the members’ expenses controversy. His successor will no longer be in charge of the Commons allowances system, which is planned to go to an independent body. MP’s will make their choice of 10 candidates today in a free and secret ballot. Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s cabinet colleagues have denied Beckett is their preferred candidate, or trying to influence other Labour party members in the vote. The claim has come from Labour backbenches.