John Bercow, who himself refrained from wearing a wig in the Commons since becoming Speaker in 2009, on Monday said that Commons clerks will no longer have to wear headgear.

Bercow defended the decision after a member likened the move to an “executive order”, BBC reported.

The Speaker announced the clerks — who advise him on conduct and constitutional issues — would also no longer wear wing collars and white tie.

Sir Gerald Howarth from the Conservative Party said the tradition of wearing wigs went back “several centuries” to which Bercow said there was an even older tradition of not wearing wigs.

Bercow, however, said the clerks would keep wearing black gowns to signify they were experts on procedure and constitutional issues.

Bercow said changes to clothing and headgear represented the “overwhelming view” of clerks themselves.

Gerald raised a point of order saying that traditional clerks’ dress was “key to the dignity of the House” and had been so “for several centuries”, adding that members “should discuss this”.

To this Bercow replied that it was “a matter that can properly be decided by the Speaker”, adding that the House of Commons Commission had approved the changes, which clerks themselves had suggested.

He said that, if one went back more than a “couple of hundred years”, the situation was different from that presented by Sir Gerald, and that “several centuries ago”, clerks “did not wear wigs”.

First Published | 7 February 2017 1:53 PM
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