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Order prevailed when Speaker Bercow presided

John Bercow

Mon, 27 Jun 2016 13:40:00 BST

House of Commons Speaker John Bercow’s public lecture was entitled The Making of a Modern Parliament

Speaker John Bercow with the University's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Bob CryanSpeaker John Bercow with the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Bob Cryan

WHEN House of Commons Speaker John Bercow came to deliver a special lecture at the University of Huddersfield, it was in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote.  He told a packed audience that the referendum had only happened because of moves to modernise Parliament and make Government more accountable to MPs.

After Mr Bercow was first elected Speaker in 2009, he decided that ordinary Members should be allowed to choose the business of the House at least once a week.  The result was the establishment of a Backbench Business Committee.  It has played a key role in many examples of pioneering legislation, said Mr Bercow, who then looked back to 2011, when the Conservative Party was officially opposed to the principle of a referendum on EU membership.

“But there was a very large minority among backbenchers who thought that policy should be in favour of a referendum,” he went on.  “The Backbench Business Committee secured a debate and there was a huge revolt against the Government’s position.  It led to the Conservatives changing their position in favour of a referendum.

“Whether you think that the outcome was a good thing or a bad thing, it was a change brokered from the grass roots and that, surely, in a democratic system is the right way to go about things,” said Mr Bercow.

He is Conservative MP for Buckingham, but as Speaker he is required to be divorced from party politics.

“That is why I don’t take a stance on matters of public dispute, but I am prepared to admit that while I absolutely respect the referendum result, I was surprised by it.  I thought it would be close but that the Remain campaign would win.”

Mr Bercow added that in the aftermath, Prime Minister David Cameron resigned “with great dignity and statesmanship”.

The lecture was titled The Making of a Modern Parliament and Mr Bercow described the various roles of the Speaker, including its historic one of chairing debates in the House.  This meant he had had to know the names of all 649 MPs, resulting in a fresh learning challenge after every election brought a new intake.

The Speaker today has a much more varied role than in the past, said Mr Bercow, who went on to describe his role as a catalyst for “much-needed reform”.

John Bercow For example, when he became Speaker his biggest single gripe was that ministerial question times in the Commons had become ponderous.  He determined to speed them up, so that more points of view could be heard.

“I have set out to make exchanges more vigorous, topical, and interactive and probing.  The function of MPs is to scrutinise legislation, policy, administration and expenditure,” said Mr Bercow, who emphasised that Parliament was not synonymous with Government.

The Speaker has also insisted that all Government policy announcements should be made to the House of Commons first, before the media.  And Mr Bercow has revived the practice known as Urgent Questions, under which MPs can apply to the Speaker for ministers to be summoned to the Commons to explain their decisions.  This had almost fallen into disuse, but over the past seven years of his Speakership, there had been 305 Urgent Questions.

Other innovations presided over by Mr Bercow included an insistence that select committees should elect their own chairs.  As a result, the committees were more assertive, demanding, scrutinising and challenging to the Government, he said.

“The very fact that we have enfranchised select committee chairs has emboldened them and they are not pushed around by ministers or whips.  The House should start to discover some self-respect, get off its knees and stand up to the Government of the day.”

Mr Bercow has attracted controversy but he was re-elected as Speaker in 2015.  During his lecture he also described innovations such as installing a nursery in the Commons and his insistence that all employees of the House should be paid the London Living Wage.  He has also developed an outreach role, which sees him addressing audiences around the country.

Traditionalists had initially been hostile to this. “But the Speaker should get out beyond Parliament and speak up for what Parliament does.”

Mr Bercow opened his lecture by describing family connections with Huddersfield and praising the local textile industry and the town’s University, especially its status as a debt-free institution.

He was introduced by the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Bob Cryan, and thanked by the Mayor of Kirklees, Councillor Jim Dodds.


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Hudds professor receives honorary award from Lund University

Professor Jeff Hearn at the Award Ceremony at Lund University

Professor Jeff Hearn (right) at the Award Ceremony at Lund University

Fri, 24 Jun 2016 16:13:00 BST

The Lund citation read… “the impact factor of Professor Hearn’s work can only be described as massive…”

Jeff Hearn UNIVERSITY of Huddersfield Research Professor Jeff Hearn – highly influential for his work on sociology and gender, with special focus on men and masculinities, including violence directed at women and children – has been awarded an honorary doctorate by Lund University in Sweden. 

It was given in recognition of the global impact of his research and for the extent of his collaborations with Swedish universities.  He has been based in the Nordic region since the late 1990s and has held posts at the University of Oslo, at Hanken School of Economics in Helsinki and as Professor of Gender Studies at Linköping University in Sweden.  Since 2013, he has been a Visiting Professor in the School of Humanities, Education and Sciences at Örebro University in Sweden.

At the University of Huddersfield, he is a Professor of Sociology, where he is involved in research projects, doctoral supervision and research development, and he is also a Fellow of the UK’s Academy of Social Sciences.

When he received his Lund University doctorate, the citation traced his influence in the field of masculinity studies to the late 1970s.  Since then, it was added, he has taken a world-leading position and “the impact factor of Professor Hearn’s work can only be described as massive”.

The citation added that: “Hearn’s research on men’s violence against women and children is particularly important as it has contributed new insights about patriarchy, power relations, and inequality which have been transformed into large-scale social policy programs which aim at preventing and combatting men’s violence in the domestic sphere, in organisations, and in society at large”.

‌Following the ceremony in which his doctorate was bestowed, Professor Hearn gave a special lecture at Lund University, in which he provided an overview of the growth of critical studies on men and masculinities.

‌‌Professor Hearn’s latest book is the critically acclaimed Men of the World, described by one academic expert as “an important, thought-provoking and incredibly timely book from one of the leading scholars in the field of men and masculinities.  I cannot praise this wonderful book highly enough”.  It was reprinted in a second edition after only a few months.  A new collective book on memory work and older men is to be published soon, and other books on revenge pornography and on young people in Finland and South Africa are in the pipeline.

Jeff Hearn at the award ceremony at Lund University Originally from London, Professor Hearn studied at Oxford, Oxford Brookes, and Leeds universities, before teaching sociology, social policy, organisations and groups, men and masculinities, and social theory at Bradford University, where he completed his PhD on social planning, social theory and theories of patriarchy, and spent 21 years there, latterly as head of department.

In 1995 he moved to a Faculty of Social Sciences Research Chair at Manchester University and since the late 1990s he has lived in the Nordic region.

Professor Hearn states that: “Having worked over many years in gender studies, organisation and management studies, social policy, and sociology, I have a broad critical approach to questions of social and political change.  However, the area I am probably most known for is research in the sub-field of critical studies on men and masculinities.  This area I have been involved with since the late 1970s and have been genuinely surprised by how it has developed.”

Other major areas of research have included organisations, management and work, and violence, especially men’s violence to women and children.


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Uni takes lead in Kirklees launch of Herbert Protocol

Cllr Christine Iredale (Deputy Mayor Designate), Consort Mr Robert Iredale, Mark Burns-Williamson, Professor Janet Hargreaves, Dr Berenice Golding

Pictured are Cllr Christine Iredale (Deputy Mayor Designate) and her Consort Mr Robert Iredale, Mark Burns-Williamson, Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire (centre) with the University's Professor Janet Hargreaves and Dr Berenice Golding (far right)

Thu, 23 Jun 2016 14:00:00 BST

The scheme provides vital information for the police when a person living with dementia goes missing

Help people with Dementia poster A KIRKLEES partnership commitment to a national scheme, which helps locate vulnerable people when they go missing, was officially launched at the University of Huddersfield by West Yorkshire Police.

Called the Herbert Protocol, the initiative encourages carers, family and friends to provide and put together useful information which can then be used in the event of a vulnerable person going missing.

All vital details are filled in such as medication required, mobile numbers, places previously located, a photograph, etc.  This way the record of information, which is retained by the family, can be provided to the police who will use that information in their search.  

Named after a war veteran of the Normandy landings, George Herbert had dementia and sadly died while he was ‘missing’ on his way to his childhood home.  Dr Berenice Golding and Professor Janet Hargreaves, both from the University of Huddersfield, organised the launch and hope that by raising awareness of the scheme among carers and health professionals, vulnerable people will be safeguarded against this happening again.

West Yorkshire Police has been using the Herbert Protocol for two years and Detective Inspector Vanessa Rolfe, of West Yorkshire Police, is delighted the scheme is being launched in Kirklees.

“The University of Huddersfield has been extremely proactive in raising awareness of dementia and the impact it can have on those with dementia and their families and friends and seemed an ideal venue to launch the scheme in Kirklees,” said DI Rolfe.

“The first few hours of any missing person search are critical, but even more so when a person has dementia or another condition that can leave them confused and vulnerable.

“The Herbert Protocol ensures that a search operation can be immediately tailored to the known details of the missing person without the need for certain carers, relatives or friends with that knowledge being available.  The scheme only works though if people sign up and this event is all about raising awareness among those with care responsibility for someone with dementia of the Herbert Protocol and how it could benefit them."

Curtain up players during rehearsals for "Seeking Joan" Raising awareness

Curtain Up Players during rehearsals for “Seeking Joan”

‌The University has been an advocate in raising awareness of dementia by hosting performances of plays such as Grandma Remember Me, by Az2B Theatre Company, and The Cleverest Thief, by Smoke Tree Theatre, which depict the impact of Alzheimer’s on individuals and their families.

This year saw the bespoke play Seeking Joan performed by the over 50s drama theatre group Curtain Up Players, many of whom have had direct experience of dementia.

The play portrays a lady called Joan, who has dementia, who one day wanders off and goes missing.  To create a play as true to life as possible, the performers conducted research with help and advice from the West Yorkshire Police, Kirklees Dementia Action Alliance, Mencap in Kirklees and Kirklees Council.

Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire’s Police Crime Commissioner, opened the launch event and said the Herbert Protocol has his full support.  “It is incredibly important that we protect vulnerable victims and that the police are accessible and adaptable to all the communities we serve.

“People with dementia are vulnerable and need treating with care, compassion and dignity,” said the Police Crime Commissioner.  “I am proud to see West Yorkshire Police are doing what they can to ensure officers and staff understand the individual needs of those with dementia by way of working with the University of Huddersfield and many others.”


A number of organisations from across the area have been involved with the planning of the event.  The University, in particular, would like to thank the following for their help in organising the launch event:

  • West Yorkshire Police, in particular Detective Inspector Vanessa Rolfe, Police Sergeant Neil Taylor and Police Constable Michelle Linney
  • Elaine Bostock of Kirklees Dementia Action Alliance
  • Samantha Jones of Mencap in Kirklees
  • Sheila Sorby from Locala
  • Euan Hill from Kirklees Council
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