We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Tributes to the Speaker

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:40 pm on 31st October 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health) 1:40 pm, 31st October 2019

May I, on behalf of the Democratic Unionist party, thank you, Mr Speaker, for all that you have done as Speaker?

May I also pay tribute to Ann Clwyd, who sits behind me so regularly, very often in her colour of red? I said to her this morning before we came into the Chamber that she has often been the conscience of many in this Chamber with regard to human rights issues. When she has spoken here on human rights issues, I have been more than pleased to join her in those opportunities to speak out and speak up for those across the world who do not have a voice. We in this House are very privileged to be the voice for them.

When I came here as a new Member in 2010, Mr Speaker, as I said earlier, I was just a tad nervous and maybe a wee bit apprehensive. I never, ever thought that I would be in the House of Commons. It was a dream, perhaps, but not something I really thought would happen in my life, and it did. I vividly remember meeting you. You shook my hand with a very welcoming and generous introduction. At once, I felt the warmth that you exuded then and you exude now, and that put me at ease in this House. I was not put at ease when I made my maiden speech, because I was as nervous as can be about that, but once I had got that speech over with, I realised that you could do it.

As I learned the rules and regulations of the House under your guidance, Mr Speaker, you occasionally chastised me, always rightfully and always justly. I found out that the word “you” can only be used for your good self. I am not quite sure whether I have learned that yet, but I am trying hard and I will endeavour to do so over the next period.

As the Back-Bench champion that you are, Mr Speaker, we in this House, and I, have felt that our views would always have an opportunity to be heard. To quote you, the voice of Strangford must and will be heard. It was heard in this House, and we thank you for that.

Your choice of Speaker’s Chaplain, which we will have a chance to refer to in a few moments—I wish to do that as well—was right and appropriate, as was your choice of the Serjeant at Arms. I supported both those choices. I thank you for all your team’s support. Peter, Ian and Jim are always kind and courteous and undoubtedly a great team.

Behind every great man—and I believe, Mr Speaker, you are a great man—is a great woman. You have been very blessed and very privileged to have at your side, as your wife, Sally. Her support for you was and is vital. I thank Sally and the children for the support they give you. I know myself how important it is to have a family behind you to give the support that you need.

I believe that the future for you, Mr Speaker, will be successful; it will be incredible. I am a great believer, as you know, in the power of prayer, and always have been. Your chaplain will know that as well. I believe that with prayer we can move mountains. Every morning I pray for you, Mr Speaker, and I will continue to do so in the time when you are not in that Chair and have moved on to other jobs. You will not be forgotten in this House, certainly not by me. I will miss you, not least for the Adjournment debates that you and I shared on many occasions. Not having you present will be a minus for me, but I hope that there will be someone else there who can take your place.

I want to thank you, Mr Speaker, for your kindness, for your friendliness and for the wise guidance that you have given to me and many others in this House. I wish you Godspeed. I thank you for all that you do and did, and wish you every success for the future. Thank you so much.