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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 July 2006, 14:57 GMT 15:57 UK
Hayman chosen to be Lords speaker
Baroness Hayman
Lady Hayman has been a heath, transport and agriculture minister
Baroness Hayman has been chosen as the first speaker of the House of Lords.

The former Labour minister replaces Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer as the presiding officer of the upper House.

The announcement comes five days after peers cast their votes. Lady Hayman is elected for a five-year term and will also act as a Lords' ambassador.

Three women and six men competed for the lucrative 101,000-a-year role, which comes with an apartment and a 10,000 gold and silk robe.

Breast feeding first

Lady Hayman has served as a health, agriculture and transport minister since entering the Lords in 1996, but left office in 2001.

She was Labour MP for Welwyn and Hatfield from 1974 to 1979 and was the first MP to breast feed at Westminster.

After leaving the government, she chaired Cancer Research UK and previously has been a member of University College London's committee on the ethics of clinical investigation and deputy director of the National Council for One Parent Families.

As the election result was announced, Lords Leader Baroness Amos told peers it was a "significant and special day" for the House.

She was sure Lady Hayman would be an "energetic, diplomatic and persuasive ambassador for the House, its value and its values".

Mary Poppins comparisons

Conservative leader in the Lords, Lord Strathclyde, said he had held reservations about establishing the new post but was sure Lady Hayman would be successful.

He marked the passing of the role of lord chancellor - which he described as a "unique office, a typically British anomaly which worked wonderfully well".

Lib Dem leader in the Lords, Lord McNally, called Lady Hayman the "Julie Andrews of British politics".

"It may well be that in her new role she needs something of the skills of a nanny and a singing nun," he joked.

Lord Falconer continues to keep the post of lord chancellor, an office which has centuries of history behind it.

'Critical friend'

As well as giving up his role as presiding officer, sitting on the Woolsack in the Lords, the lord chancellor is no longer head of the judiciary.

Lord Falconer is also constitutional affairs secretary in the Cabinet, with justice reforms top of his agenda.

He told peers: "We change with the times. These changes carry with them the seeds of our future."

The Lords was a respected and effective second chamber, viewed as a "critical friend" by the government, he added.

Unlike the Commons speaker in the Commons, Lady Hayman will not call peers to speak or rule on points of order.

By convention, the lords regulate their own proceedings and that is expected to continue.

The Lord Speaker will wear a gown but no wig in the Lords Chamber.

Watch the annoucement in the House of Lords

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