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Wednesday, 12 July, 2000, 21:15 GMT 22:15 UK
Boothroyd praised as 'national institution'
Betty Boothroyd
Miss Boothroyd is stepping down after eight years as Speaker
Friends and colleagues of retiring Speaker Betty Boothroyd have been paying tribute to the first lady of Parliament.

Prime Minister Tony Blair called her "something of a national institution," and said:

"She is a really outstanding Speaker, not just because she is sharp and to the point, but because she has a marvellous way of using humour and fun to try and deflate really difficult situations in the House of Commons."

Former Prime Minister John Major also spoke highly of Miss Boothroyd, saying he was "very sorry" she was retiring.

"She has been an outstanding Speaker who has enhanced the reputation of the House of Commons throughout the world," he said.

"She will be missed for her humour and authority in the chair and will be a hard act to follow."

And Liberal Democrat Leader Charles Kennedy added his voice to the compliements, saying she was "a magnificent ambassador for Parliamentary democracy in this country".
John Major
John Major: "She will be a hard act to follow"

"As the first woman Speaker, her place in the history books is assured. She will be really missed, deeply missed on all sides of the House," he said.

Commons Leader Margaret Beckett told Miss Boothroyd that MPs had heard the news of her retirement with "deep regret" but they had taken "pride and pleasure" from her Speakership.

From Miss Boothroyd's West Bromwich West constituency, Sandwell Council leader Lord Tarsem King said: "During her term Betty has contributed greatly to the status of the office of Speaker.

"The effectiveness with which she has carried out her duties and her commitment to the office means that it will be quite a job to find someone to replace her.

"Obviously we are very proud for her to have represented Sandwell and I have no doubt that her dignity and standing have enhanced the status of the borough.

"We wish her well in whatever she intends to do in the future."

And MPs bordering Miss Boothroyd's constituency were swift to pay tribute to her contribution to British politics.

West Bromwich East MP Peter Snape said: "She adapted enormously quickly to a lonely and responsible job and became a familiar figurehead throughout the world because of the extremely capable way in which she did it.

"Despite the demands of her job, she never forgot the people of West Bromwich who sent her to the House of Commons."

Wolverhampton North East MP Ken Purchase said Miss Boothroyd had been "tremendous" for the House of Commons, the Labour Party and for the country.

"She has been much admired. It's a shock that it's going to take such immediate effect. It's an incredible day, one of great disappointment that she will be going."

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See also:

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Who'll replace the Speaker?
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Profile: Madam Speaker
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Madam Speaker's career
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The role of the Speaker
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Appreciating Betty Boothroyd
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Speaker Betty Boothroyd to retire
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