Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Tributes (Speaker Weatherill)

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 1:00 pm on 10th May 2007.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Derek Conway Derek Conway Conservative, Old Bexley and Sidcup 1:00 pm, 10th May 2007

Several colleagues from my 1983 intake have spoken about how they found Speaker Weatherill when they were new to the House and the proceedings and he was new to the Chair. Hon. Members have rightly said that, as an occupant of the Chair, he had complete control of the Chamber and its proceedings. When I became a Whip, I found him extraordinarily helpful in the kind advice that he gave. As several hon. Members have said, he not only presided over the Commons but gave helpful advice when he was not in the Chair.

Like you, Mr. Speaker, and Mrs. Martin, he and his wife were equally generous in Speaker's House. When my daughter, Claudia, who is now 18, was baptised here, Mr. Speaker Weatherill generously allowed us to have the post-christening reception in his apartment. My middle son, who is now 21 but was then three-and-a-half, complained on my daughter's arrival that he would have preferred a rabbit and was disappointed to have a baby sister. Speaker Weatherill heard about that, so after the christening, at the reception in Speaker's House, he proposed a toast of health to Claudia—squalling baby that she was then—and, from behind his back, produced a stuffed rabbit and presented it to Freddie, who has it to this day. That was the mark of the man.

The number of times that people have commented on not how Mr. Speaker Weatherill conducted himself in your great office, Mr. Speaker, but his human side is enormously pleasing. I am sure that, although Lyn and his children and grandchildren will mourn the loss of Jack as a husband, father and grandfather, they will take enormous comfort from and great pride in the fact that, as the tributes have made clear, he was personable, kind and, above all, a great family man. That was reflected in his conduct in the great office that he held. He will be fondly remembered by those of us who saw him as our first headmaster as well as our first Speaker.