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Tributes to the Speaker

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:20 am on 31st October 2019.

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Photo of Valerie Vaz Valerie Vaz Shadow Leader of the House of Commons 11:20 am, 31st October 2019

May I start by thanking the Leader of the House for his statement? I note that there are no business questions this morning, but he did say that you would allow us a bit of latitude, Mr Speaker, so may I ask one question through you? When is Parliament likely to return after the election? Perhaps the Leader of the House could answer that in his own time.

Most people can read the basic facts about your life on your website, Mr Speaker, and on various other websites. You are the first Speaker since the second world war to have served alongside four Prime Ministers and to be elected to the post four times. I shall concentrate on my interactions with you.

Those of us in the 2010 intake were pleased that the rules were suspended slightly and we were allowed to ask questions before we made our first speeches. I think that made a huge difference to us. You spoke at, and gave up a Saturday evening for, the launch of the campaign to have a bust for Noor Inayat Khan, who served in the Special Operations Executive—Churchill’s special group. Karen Newman sculpted the wonderful bust that is now in Gordon Square. Noor was executed in the Dachau concentration camp. It was important to recognise her.

You allowed me the use of Speaker’s House for the launch of the Sidney Goldberg competition, which you attended and spoke at. Sidney Goldberg was in the headquarters ship during the D-day landings. It is important that you have opened up the use of Speaker’s House to civil society and charities—roughly eight a week, more than 150 a year. It is really important for people to see what goes on in Speaker’s House, and I am sure many people will thank you for that. When fielding a number of questions as guests walked through to the bed in the final room, we had to explain to them that it was not you and Sally who slept there.

With your friend since 1982, Dr Lewis, you trained quite a lot of Tory candidates, and I am sure you have seen many of them here. You have obviously trained them well, because they have been quite argumentative towards you.