Parliament pays tribute to Bercow as tearful speaker chairs last PMQs

Parliament pays tribute to Bercow as tearful speaker chairs last PMQs


This is your last prime minister’s questions. And as befits a distinguished former
Wimbledon competitor, you have sat up there in your high chair not just as an umpire
ruthlessly adjudicating on the finer points of parliamentary procedure with your trademark
Tony Montana scowl, Mr Speaker. Not just as a commentator offering your
own opinions on the rallies you are watching — sometimes acerbic and sometimes kindly
— but above all as a player in your own right,
peppering every part of the chamber with your own thoughts and opinions
like some uncontrollable tennis-ball machine [laughter] Mr Speaker, delivering a series of literally
unplayable and formally unreturnable volleys and smashes. Although we may disagree about some
of the legislative innovations you have favoured, there is no doubt in my mind that you
have been a great servant of this parliament – Hear hear.
– and this House of Commons. You have modernised, you have widened
access, you have cared for the needs of those with disabilities, and you have cared
so deeply for the rights of back benchers that you have done more than anyone
since Stephen Hawking to stretch time in this particular session. [laughter] As we come to the end of what must be
the longest retirement since Frank Sinatra’s, Mr Speaker, I am sure the whole house
will join me in thanking you and hoping that you enjoy in your retirement the
soothing medicament that you have so often prescribed to the rest of us. You have done so much to reform this
House of Commons, and our democracy is stronger for the way you have done it. You have served for 10 years. You have given real power to back benchers,
vastly expanded the use of urgent questions, which has been overwhelmingly popular
with all government ministers, and opened up the number of emergency
debates, which is even more popular with even more government ministers. And in the traditions of the great Speaker
Lenthall and others, you have stood up for parliament when it ​has to be stood up for and we
thank you for that because you have also carried that message internationally
in terms of the role of parliamentary democracy and parliaments holding governments to account. And as we hope to form a government
in the future, we hope to be held to account by parliament as well. Thank you, Mr Speaker. Can I, on behalf of those of us on these benches,
wish you all the best for your impending retirement and salute you, Sir, for the
way that you have stood up for the democracy of this house in order that at this time of crisis
we hold the government to account. We trust that you will enjoy your many
passions in retirement. You will always be welcome up in Scotland,
and if you need to visit a football team as an antidote to Arsenal
you will always be welcome at Easter Road to see the mighty Hibernian. Let me, Mr Speaker, wish England all the
best for the rugby on Saturday. – Hear hear. From the Liberal Democrats
benches can we wish you well and congratulate you on a decade particularly
as a modernising Speaker? From topicality of debates to promoting diversity
within the staff of the house, to reforms to support parents who are MPs,
you have helped to drag this institution out of the past so it can face the future. Before we proceed with a number of
statements that need to be made, I would like to thank the prime minister
and colleagues for their kind and generous personal remarks,
which are greatly appreciated. I want to thank staff of mine, past and present,
who have given of their time to be here today for the last prime minister’s questions
that I chair. All of them are people who have worked
with me for a significant period of time. We have had fantastic relations and
a terrific bond and I hugely appreciate the fact that they have bothered
to turn up on this occasion. And in particular, again, I want to thank
my wife Sally and our three children – Hear hear.
– Oliver, Freddie and Jemima for the support, stoicism and fortitude, which they have displayed
through thick and thin over the past decade. I will never forget it and I will always be
grateful for it. [Applause]

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