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Tributes to the Speaker

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:29 pm on 31st October 2019.

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Photo of Seema Malhotra Seema Malhotra Labour/Co-operative, Feltham and Heston 12:29 pm, 31st October 2019

These are responses to a statement.

Mr Speaker, your work on the Education Centre has been extraordinary. You are an agent of change, and you set a standard for how to push the boundaries to achieve the reform and revitalisation that is so desperately needed, no matter what the organisation. I also thank you on behalf of my constituents, because I know that hundreds, if not thousands, have been through the Education Centre. Young people, many of primary school age, have been able to experience the House and build a connection with a place that is their House and is fighting for their future, too. I have no doubt that future parliamentarians, and indeed future Speakers, will embark on their roles in public life as a result of their experiences of our fantastic Education Centre and all who work in it.

You have opened up Speaker’s House, where we have held events such as National Sikh Awareness and History Month. Indeed, you hosted an event marking the first anniversary of the launch of a project in Hounslow, Hounslow’s Promise, which seeks to advance the educational attainment, social mobility and employability of our young people.

I also pay tribute to you for your defence of this House and our democracy. This is a House that is a beacon of democracy across the world. Its integrity and its reputation as a national institution go beyond us as individuals and must never be taken for granted. It is indeed for each of us to protect and safeguard the House, because it is our democracy that keeps our nation safe.

You have led us through unbearable times—events that have stunned the nation, such as the terror attack on Parliament and the murder of our dear friend Jo Cox. You have also seen us through the unconventional but extremely important and peaceful unveiling, on a Saturday, of her coat of arms here behind us, by her husband and her children. I was honoured to be here that day, along with local councillors Adriana Gheorghe, Candice Atterton and Samia Chaudhary, and others who came to support the family at that time and to remember Jo.

In the Chamber, Mr Speaker, you have been tough and fair when that has been needed for either Front or Back Benchers, but you have also been generous when that has been needed. You have, for instance, been generous in respect of urgent constituency matters—including events such as the life, and then the death, of young Charlie Gard from my constituency—and, indeed, in respect of policy matters such those relating to young offenders in Feltham young offenders institution. You have allowed us to raise those issues at moments of great importance, and I am grateful to you, as are my constituents, for the times when that has made the difference.

Mr Speaker, you have touched the lives of hundreds of thousands who have walked through the doors of this place. You are loved by many across the House, political friend and foe alike, and you will be deeply missed. I know, however, that this will not be the end of a sterling career and that whatever you do next will be a great contribution to our democracy and to our country. I am excited, as well as intrigued, about what it might be.