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Tributes (Speaker Weatherill)

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 12:55 pm on 10th May 2007.

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Photo of Michael Jack Michael Jack Conservative, Fylde 12:55 pm, 10th May 2007

On occasions such as this, one thinks it sad that the person we talk of, Jack Weatherill, cannot be here now to listen to what we have all said; I expect that his spirit may well be. Lady Weatherill will no doubt draw great comfort from the very proper tributes that have been paid to this very human of beings.

I often think, Mr. Speaker, that the job that you and your predecessors have to do is like that of a good headmaster. You have to know your pupils and your staff: you have to know what makes them tick. I have learned one or two things from the tributes that other right hon. and hon. Members have paid so far. I, too, was a recipient of one of Jack Weatherill's little notes. I had been here for a couple of years and had made a particularly robust speech from the Back Benches, which in the days of Margaret Thatcher's Government was quite a brave thing to do. I got a little note of encouragement, and felt absolutely wonderful as a result. One gets very little feedback in this place. Our Whips will tell us if we are not doing the job properly from their standpoint, but nobody comes up and says, from an impartial point of view, "You're doing a good job", or "You're doing a bad job." To get a note from the Speaker, a person whom one immediately respects—one's new headmaster when one comes into this House—is very special indeed. He did, in a way, maintain a pastoral watch over Members of this House and make certain that we got the odd little bit of feedback and comment that was ever so useful.

I recall, equally, that when he left this place that kind of feedback and interest in what one was doing as an individual did not stop. I would see him in the Lobby or walking somewhere around the place, and he would stop and say, "How are you, Michael? How's it going? What's happening in the party?" He remained very interested in what happened in this place and demonstrated, as colleagues have indicated, that he was, without doubt, a parliamentarian to his dying day.