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Mr Speaker, it is a pleasure to pay tribute to you today. I have known you for the best part of 30 years, and I echo everything that has been said in the Chamber today. I will not repeat those tributes, but instead add to them by saying things that have not been said.
I thank you for your patriotism, for being an upholder of tradition and for being a lover of your country. You are a patriot. The Mother of the House said that you were politically correct, but on those issues you have never been politically correct. It was you, Sir, who supported the long-running campaign to ensure that the flag of our country was flown from the Victoria Tower every single day of the year. Members will recall that it used to be flown only when the House was sitting. In the early part of 2010, the House agreed, with your support, Mr Speaker—a statement was made in the House—that the flag would fly permanently, 365 days of the year. That is, I think, a subject of pride in our country and it is appreciated by many.
It is also you, Mr Speaker, who has upheld the tradition of St George’s day for England. When we celebrate our traditions for England, Speaker’s House has been opened to the Royal Society of St George and to organisations that celebrate our English heritage. I thank you, Sir, for allowing the St George’s day organisations to come to Speaker’s House to celebrate
I also remember that it was you, Mr Speaker, who allowed the tradition—the sad tradition—of crests of MPs who have been assassinated and murdered to be displayed in this Chamber. For a very long time, the crest of Airey Neave was in the Chamber, but the previous Speaker was not in favour of additional crests. You may recall, Mr Speaker, that Lord Howe of Aberavon and I came to see you and asked whether we could have a crest in memory of the late Ian Gow, who was murdered. You were very supportive of that, and that led to crests being put up not only for the late Ian Gow, but for Dr Robert Bradford, Jo Cox, Sir Anthony Berry and others who were killed by Irish terrorists. It was you, Mr Speaker, who allowed that tradition to be reinstated so that we could remember Members of Parliament who were so cruelly taken from us by assassination and political murder.
The diamond jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen was a great celebration for the whole of Parliament, but it was Mr Speaker who opened Speaker’s House for a wonderful celebration for representatives of all Her Majesty’s realms and territories. Indeed, how can we forget the renaming of the Clock Tower to the Elizabeth Tower? There are many things that you will be remembered and thanked for, Mr Speaker, but from my personal point of view, it will be your kindness, your friendship, your understanding, your willingness to deal with issues as they arose, and your being on the side of Back Benchers who need a voice—you have always made sure that we have had that voice.
Mr Speaker, you have been a wonderful champion of this House. You have promoted the Mother of Parliaments, and I believe that you will be remembered for many years to come.