Chorley's MP Sir Lindsay Hoyle has claimed there is a drink and drugs problem in Parliament – and also said it is time there was a northerner elected as speaker of the House of Commons.

MPs running to replace John Bercow as Commons Speaker are taking part in a hustings event in Westminster.

The nine candidates were questioned for around two hours by journalists.

The other candidates are Sir Henry Bellingham, Chris Bryant, Harriet Harman, Meg Hillier, Dame Eleanor Laing, Sir Edward Leigh, Shailesh Vara and Rosie Winterton.

Sir Lindsay told journalists there is a drugs problem in Parliament.

Questioned on whether there is a drink problem in Parliament, he said: "I do think there is a drink problem and I think it needs to be addressed and the support needs to be given, that's why health and well-being has got to be extended.

"It's not just drink we've got to catch out, there is a drug problem, and I genuinely believe that counselling and real support should be available for all staff and members."

When pushed on whether he just said that there is a drug problem in Parliament, he clarified: "I think, I believe there will be a drug problem - there is a drug problem right across this country.

"I don't believe that somebody who walks in here may not be tempted into drugs, and what I'm saying is that we should have health and well-being in place for drink and drug counselling and real support for anybody."

Candidates were asked about how constituents felt about the prospect of them becoming speaker.

Sir Lindsay said his constituents are telling him that "it's time we have a northerner in that seat" – John Bercow, who is from Edgware in North London, has been speaker for 10 years.

Before him, Glasgow MP Michael Martin, held the post, following on from Betty Boothroyd, from Dewsbury in West Yorkshire – but who was MP for West Bromwich in the Midlands.

The candidates were asked if they thought John Bercow "behaved well" back at the time of the initial prorogation period, and whether they would have handled it any differently.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle said: "We have to get the public to put their trust back in Parliament. We don't need to be a bear pit."

He said there can be debate without nastiness.