Labour peer John McFall elected new Speaker of the House of Lords

Tony Diver
·2 min read
John McFall - Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament
John McFall - Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament

A former Labour minister who led the interrogation of bankers after the 2008 financial crash has been elected Speaker of the House of Lords.

Lord McFall was elected by peers and praised by his predecessor Lord Fower and Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the Commons.

Previously the MP for West Dunbartonshire, Lord McFall led the powerful Treasury Select Committee through the aftermath of the 2008 banking crisis.

He interrogated finance executives, uncovering a bonus culture and a lack of qualifications at the top of the profession, and accusing the Bank of England of being "asleep on the job" in the lead-up to the crisis.

One commentator described his questioning style as akin to a "modern day Spanish Inquisition".

The non-affiliated peer joined the upper chamber in 2010 and has served as Senior Deputy Speaker since 2016, overseeing work to revamp the house's select committees and to develop new procedures for hybrid working during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Scotsman will also oversee the upper chamber at a time of tumult in Scotland, as calls for independence grow.

Lord McFall said he was "humbled" to take on the role. "As a House we face some fundamental challenges, the most immediate being how we return safely to Westminster in greater numbers once the current restrictions are relaxed, while harnessing the technical and procedural innovations that have enabled us to operate so differently over the past year," he said.

"The huge restoration and renewal programme for the Palace is entering a critical phase while the digital transformation of Parliament will also need to gather momentum in the years ahead."

Sir Lindsay, his counterpart in the Commons, said he "could not find a nicer, kinder or more welcoming politician".

"Not only was he an extremely hard-working constituency MP, he played a leading role as chairman of the Commons Treasury Select Committee in holding the banking sector to account following the financial crash of 2008/9," he said. "For the past five years he has served – with distinction – as senior Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords, demonstrating a zeal for impartiality and fairmindedness."