Betty Boothroyd’s “no nonsense approach” is still as refreshing today as it was when she led the House of Commons, tributes to her have said.
Lord Fowler, Speaker of the House of Lords, congratulated Baroness Boothroyd on her 90th birthday in the chamber today, where the Dewsbury-born still sits as a cross-party peer.
Baroness Boothroyd was elevated to the House of Lords 18 years ago and today tributes were paid to her “invaluable contribution” to politics.
Lord Fowler, Speaker of the House of Lords, said: “On behalf of the whole house, I would like to pay tribute to one of our most distinguished members, on this her 90th birthday, Baroness Boothroyd.
“As noble Lords will know it is not customary to single out individual members from the woolsack but on this occasion I am very happy to make an exception.
“Not only was the noble Lady an exceptional champion of the ancient and undoubted rights and privileges of the House of Commons as their speaker, she has continued to make an invaluable contribution to this house since she was introduced 18 years ago.
“She is now someone who is widely recognised as a champion of Parliament and the indispensable role it plays in our constitution.”
Baroness Boothroyd laughed as Lord Fowler recalled an interview with the House magazine where she said she considered herself as “rather timid”.
Lord Fowler said: “Whilst that was not exactly my experience in the Commons I think I speak for the whole house when I say her no nonsense approach is as refreshing today as it was the day she took up her seat in the Commons itself.
“She’s always been independently minded but in my experienced she’s always acted with courtesy and charm, and as a role model for all parliamentarians, speakers very much included. We wish her a very happy birthday.”
Former Prime Ministers Sir John Major and Tony Blair joined warm wishes towards the first - and as of yet only - woman speaker of the House of Commons.
Sir John saluted Parliamentarian’s entry into “the Pantheon of National Treasures”, while his successor Mr Blair admitted he was in awe of the Yorkshirewoman.
In the House of Lords today Baroness Boothroyd made comment on the Extinction Rebellion protests currently surrounding Westminster. She said when she was younger she carried banners at many demonstrations.
"But in those days the police were in control of me as a demonstrator, now it seems the demonstrators are in control of the police."
In the House of Commons Baroness Boothroyd was also praised by Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Deputy Speaker.
Responding to a point of order raised by Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves, he said: “I have the greatest respect for Baroness Boothroyd, she is one of my idols, someone I look up to who set an agenda in this house that we can all respect.”
He added: “It’s a privilege to have known her, it’s a privilege to have been in this house when she was in this chair, and everybody who has ever worked with her holds her in the highest esteem and respect.