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Tuesday, 24 October, 2000, 18:40 GMT 19:40 UK
Betty Boothroyd made life peer
Betty Boothroyd
Betty Boothroyd: The first woman Speaker in over 700 years
Betty Boothroyd has been granted a life peerage in the wake of her retirement as Speaker of the House of Commons.

Miss Boothroyd retired on Sunday after 27 years as an MP and eight years as Speaker.


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

Tony Blair
The decision to grant her the peerage - which guarantees her a place in the House of Lords for life - is in keeping with a long established tradition.

Her distinguished parliamentary career included service on many select committees and as a whip, but she never became a minister.

In 1992, however, the Labour MP for West Bromwich West pulled off the notable triumph of becoming the first woman Speaker in over 700 years of Commons history.

The peerage guarantees her continued contribution at the UK parliament and she will prove a welcome asset to the Lords.

Popular at home at abroad

As Speaker she was immensely popular both at home and abroad, bringing warmth and humour to the job.

She was also in her element handling the more rowdy moments of parliamentary debate.

Miss Boothroyd was also a staunch defender of parliament, insisting that government ministers make their announcements to the House, rather than to the media.

Her successor, Michael Martin - who was elected as the new Speaker on Monday - has a tough act to follow.

When she announced her retirement in July, Prime Minister Tony Blair led the praise.

He 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."

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See also:

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Commons at its best and worst
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MPs' anger over Speaker vote
21 Oct 00 | UK Politics
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20 Oct 00 | UK Politics
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