John Bercow pays tribute to Speaker

John Bercow pays tribute to retiring Speaker, Michael Martin, and is especially appreciative of being invited to be a member of the Speaker's Panel.

John Bercow (Buckingham) (Con): It is a pleasure for me to follow the right hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Dr. Strang), whose pithy and gracious tribute will be appreciated in all parts of the House.

Mr. Speaker, Sir, we did not get off to the best possible start. I was one of the handful of Members of this House who voted against your election. Far from holding that against me, however, you proceeded to treat me with a decency and fairness for which I shall always be grateful. In addition, I am especially appreciative of the fact that, four years ago, just after the general election, you allowed me to join your panel of Committee Chairmen, which I have found to be a hugely rewarding experience.

As was observed earlier by the hon. Member for Moray (Angus Robertson), almost from day one, when you took the Chair, you were subjected to relentless snobbery and distain from a section of the tabloid press that seemed to think that the election of the son of a merchant seaman represented some kind of constitutional outrage. Sir, that was always far more of a reflection on the tabloid press that it ever was on you. [Hon. Members: “Hear, hear!”] In thanking you for your unfailing personal kindness to me, to other Members throughout the House and to thousands of people beyond it, I wish you and Mary a long, happy and peaceful retirement.

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