June 22, 2009

John Bercow elected Speaker of the House of Commons

John Bercow is elected Speaker of the House of Commons and makes his acceptance speech from the step in front of the Speaker’s chair.

Mr. Speaker-Elect: (standing on the upper step): Thank you. My first pleasant duty is warmly to thank on behalf of us all Alan Williams for the magnificent and good-humoured way in which he has conducted this election. It has been a very long day, and those of you expecting a customarily lengthy diatribe will be sorely disappointed.

I should like to thank and pay a heartfelt tribute to all of the candidates who stood in this election. It has been a constructive debate that we have enjoyed over the last few weeks. I confess that I have the highest regard for all the other candidates; each brought something to the occasion; each had a contribution to make; and I can honestly say that each made that contribution in the most sincere and constructive fashion to the great and continuing benefit of this House.

Colleagues, you will understand that my thoughts at this time are, above all, with my family: my wife, Sally, our three very young children, Oliver, Freddie and Jemima, not to mention my beloved mother, who has been keenly interested in the proceedings.

Colleagues, you have just bestowed upon me the greatest honour that I have enjoyed in my professional life. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the confidence that you have placed in me, and I am keenly aware of the obligations into which I now enter. I just want to say this about the responsibility of the office.

I said only a few hours ago in my speech that. if elected, a Speaker has a responsibility immediately and permanently to cast aside all his or her previous political views. I said it—[Interruption.]—and I meant it. My commitment to this House is to be completely impartial as between members of one political party and another. That is what it is about, and I will do my best, faithfully and honourably and effectively, to serve this House in the period ahead.

We have faced quite the most testing times. It has been a gruelling experience. Many Members feel very sore and very vulnerable, but large sections of the public also feel angry and disappointed. We do have to reform, but I just want to say that I continue to believe that the vast majority of Members of this House are upright, decent, honourable people who have come into politics not to feather their nests, but because they have heeded the call of public service. They want to serve their constituents, to make a difference and to improve the lot of their fellow citizens in this country, and for such people I shall always have the highest respect. It is on that basis, with that conviction, and in that spirit that I shall seek to discharge my obligations in this office, which—as I have said—I regard it as the greatest privilege of my professional life to occupy.

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