John Bercow

On Inviting President Trump to Address Parliament

delivered 6 February 2017, Palace of Westminster, London, UK


[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]

What I will say is this: An address by a foreign leader to both Houses of Parliament is not an automatic right. It is an earned honor. Moreover, there are many precedents for state visits to take place to our country which do not include an address to both Houses of Parliament. Thatís the first point.

The second point is, in relation to Westminster Hall, there are three key holders to Westminster Hall: the Speaker of the House of Commons, the Speaker of the House of Lords and the Lord Great Chamberlain. Ordinarily, we are able to work by consensus and the Hall would be used for a purpose such as an address or another purpose by agreement of the three key holders.

I must say to the Honorable Gentleman, to all who signed his early day motion and to others with strong views about this matter on either side of the argument, that before the imposition of the migrant ban I would myself have been strongly opposed to an address by President Trump in Westminster Hall. After the imposition of the migrant ban by President Trump I am even more strongly opposed to an address by President Trump in Westminster Hall.

So far as the Royal Gallery is concerned, and again I operate on advice, I do not perhaps have as strong a say in that matter. It is in a different part of the building, although customarily an invitation to a visiting leader to deliver an address there would be issued in the names of the two Speakers. I would not wish to issue an invitation to President Trump to speak in the Royal Gallery.

And I conclude by saying to the Honorable Gentleman this: We value our relationship with the United States. If a state visit takes place, that is way beyond and above the pay grade of the Speaker. However, as far as this place is concerned, I feel very strongly that our opposition to racism and to sexism, and our support for equality before the law, and an independent judiciary are hugely important considerations in the House of Commons.

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