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Tributes to the Speaker

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:39 pm on 31st October 2019.

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Photo of Ian Mearns Ian Mearns Chair, Backbench Business Committee 12:39 pm, 31st October 2019

For the very last time: I am grateful to you for calling me to speak, Mr Speaker. It has been a real pleasure to work under your speakership for the past nine and a half years. My right hon. Friend Ann Clwyd stole a little piece of my thunder by mentioning the fact that the BBC reported this morning that you had used the term “Order, order” no fewer than just under 14,000 times. Maybe you are fortunate in one way, because you might not have achieved that record, had we been living through less interesting political times. Those interesting times were exemplified two Saturdays ago when we assembled here in this Chamber for Prayers and your Chaplain used the words, “be not anxious”. A nervous giggle ran around the House, and I thought that that was a moment to treasure because it captured the mood of the House, and the mood of the country, in the light of the political position we are currently in.

Mr Speaker, you have been a true champion of Back Benchers for the entire duration of my nine and a half years’ tenure in this House. For nine of those years, I have served as a member of the Backbench Business Committee, and for the past four and a half years, I have been Chair of that Committee. Sir, you have been a champion not just of Back Benchers but of the role of the Backbench Business Committee, which came into being when I first entered the House. Through your speakership, the Committee has allowed Members across the House to air issues of vital importance to their constituents across the whole United Kingdom. You have been a true champion of their capacity and ability to do that. You have allowed us as Back Benchers to hold the Executive to account.

On behalf of my elder sister, I also want to thank you for pronouncing my name correctly. I think we had a little lesson about that in a curry house not too far away from this very establishment. It has been a pleasure to work under your speakership, and I wish you a very long and happy next stage of your career.