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The BBC's Carole Walker
"She told MPs it was time someone else kept them in order"
 real 28k

Speaker of the House of Commons, Betty Boothroyd
announces her resignation
 real 28k

Michael Brown, fomer MP and Independent journalist
"She was always firm, she was always fair"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 12 July, 2000, 21:18 GMT 22:18 UK
Speaker Betty Boothroyd to retire

House of Commons Speaker Betty Boothroyd is to retire at the end of the summer after eight years in the role.

Miss Boothroyd, who celebrated her 70th birthday last year, announced her decision in a short but emotional statement to the House of Commons on Wednesday.

It has been a great honour to serve the House as Speaker for more than eight years

Betty Boothroyd
She also announced that she would step down as MP for West Bromwich West, meaning a by-election. She had a 15,423 majority at the last election, when she was not opposed by the Conservatives or Liberal Democrats.

At the end of her statement, Miss Boothroyd said: "Be happy for me!" to a spontaneous round of applause - a sound rarely heard in the House of Commons where clapping is regarded as "unparliamentary behaviour".

Miss Boothroyd explained to MPs that she was standing down after the summer recess this year to give her successor a "good run-in" before the general election.

"It has been a great honour to serve the House as Speaker for more than eight years," she told MPs.

Miss Boothroyd was elected Speaker in 1992 at the age of 62, after serving for five years as a deputy. She was the first woman to take the office.

'Deep regret'

Leader of the House Margaret Beckett responded to the announcement by saying MPs had heard Miss Boothroyd's statement with "deep regret", but told her the whole House "took pride and pleasure in your Speakership".

Gwyneth Dunwoody
Gwyneth Dunwoody: Friend and possible successor
Ms Beckett explained that Ms Boothroyd would remain as Speaker during the summer recess, fulfilling outstanding engagements, but would stand down on 20 October just before parliament resumed.

The first day of business will then be given over to electing a successor.

Several MPs are being seen as candidates for the job, including Liberal Democrats Menzies Campbell and Alan Beith.

Gwyneth Dunwoody is being seen as the Labour frontrunner while Tory Deputy Speaker Sir Alan Haselhurst also has a number of supporters.

MPs are given a free vote on the Speaker, but it is likely government whips will exert pressure on backbenchers to vote for Mr Blair's choice, whoever that should be.

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See also:

12 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Who'll replace the Speaker?
12 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Appreciating Betty Boothroyd
12 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Profile: Madam Speaker
12 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Madam Speaker's career
12 Jul 00 | UK Politics
The role of the Speaker
08 Oct 99 | UK Politics
Madam Speaker celebrates 70
22 Mar 00 | UK Politics
The Speaker receives press damages
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