HC Deb 07 May 1997 vol 294 cc2-12 2.49 pm
Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody (Crewe and Nantwich)

Sir Edward, this is a truly beautiful day. The sun is shining, God is in his heaven, and I am happy to see a majority of the House of Commons wearing the right colours.

The lady whom I have the honour to propose as Speaker of this august House, the right hon. Member for West Bromwich, West (Miss Boothroyd), fought a unique election campaign, wearing a green rosette. One very rarely has the opportunity to introduce to one's colleagues, so many of them new to the House, a person of such sterling value and remarkable ability.

Many here, perhaps those who have arrived for the first time today, will think that they know our Speaker, because they know her public persona as a witty, hard-hitting Yorkshirewoman who is very much in charge and keeps us all in our place. That, of course, is what she does, but behind that public persona is another person who is much valued by all Members of the House of Commons, from all parties. She understands not only our abilities but our frailties. Unlike some here, she got here only after five attempts.

For all that, when the right hon. Lady came here, she had such a lot to contribute that she soon began to make her mark. As many of us know, she worked here in the Palace in all sorts of capacities, and for some remarkably modest people such as Barbara Castle and Geoffrey de Freitas. She learned many skills from the people with whom she worked when she first came into the House.

The right hon. Lady had to wait a certain amount of time, not least because even some members of the organisation committee of the Labour party had the effrontery to tell her that she should be a little older before trying to be a Member of Parliament; I do not know what they would have done with the present candidates list. She got here, however, because the people of West Bromwich recognised in her an outstanding woman.

The right hon. Lady has served the House for what seems to me a very short time, but she has done so with intelligence, ability and remarkable tolerance. She understands, because she has been in our Whips Office, every trick that we can use and change that we can make to get what we want. She understands the importance of the procedures of the House which, though sometimes arcane, contribute to the delivery of free speech. Above all, she is the person who protects that free speech, because to her the importance of the House of Commons lies in its ability to speak for the people, to be their voice and to represent them.

The right hon. Lady has had a rather different election campaign from some of us. I do not think that, like me, she had a gentleman falling out of a pub at her feet and asking what she intended to do for the alcoholic vote. I had to say, "Not a great deal." However, I was comforted to learn his politics when he reeled away into the distance shouting, "Hope you lose."

In spite of the fact that, in a return to a much older and more dignified procedure, the right hon. Lady did not have quite so many opponents, she comes to the House as one of the most lively and caring Members of Parliament. Hon. Members may not know that she takes her role as chief Speaker of the Commonwealth—if I may call her that—as a great duty. She not only has a public persona in Britain but is well known all over the Commonwealth. She welcomes people of every nationality, colour and religion throughout her working term to show them what we do, why it is important and why that tradition of democracy needs to be spread even further. She not only welcomes individuals but is a very gregarious character. Those of us who have the privilege of counting her among our friends know that she tries to spread friendship, kindness and understanding among Members of parties of all sizes and shapes, and now even between different genders.

Sir Edward, you and I have seen one or two summers, but we 21-year-olds know how to appreciate the important things of life. It is therefore a great privilege and a great honour for me to propose to the House of Commons that its Speaker be the right hon. Member for West Bromwich, West.

2.55 pm
Mr. John MacGregor (South Norfolk)

Sir Edward, may I say how delighted we are that you are back as leader—[Interruption.]—as Father of the House. You have given distinguished service to the country, always as a true parliamentarian and, above all, as a House of Commons man. We all wish you well in your continuing endeavours both in Parliament and in serving your constituency in the whole of the lifetime of this Parliament.

The last time that I met the right hon. Member for West Bromwich, West (Miss Boothroyd) was just before the dissolution of the last Parliament when we were together late at night, in very convivial circumstances, arm in arm, in a chorus line singing, "We'll meet again." More of that later, but little did I think then that when we met again, I would have the great pleasure and privilege of seconding the proposal that she should again be our Speaker.

I would like to make three points. First, those of us who were in the last Parliament know already the right hon. Lady's many sterling qualities, which is why she is our unanimous choice as Speaker, without the need for an election. She has been vigorous and sometimes quite necessarily tough—and I am delighted that she has been—but always with good humour. She has been firm, but always fair. She has always protected the rights of hon. Members on both sides of the House and, in particular, those of Back Benchers.

When the House was dissolved at the end of the last Parliament, my successor as Leader of the House paid a tribute to the right hon. Lady. Leaders of the House come to know Speakers very well, as I came to know the right hon. Lady's predecessor well. The tribute did not surprise me, because we all came to regard with admiration the qualities that I have described.

Secondly, I have always been a strong advocate of reforming the House of Commons to ensure that it is as effective as possible and keeps up to date. I have always been a firm believer in the high reputation of this House. There is no more honourable position for anyone than to be a Member of it. In both those respects, the right hon. Lady carried forward splendidly those objectives during the last Parliament. She, among others, helped to implement the Jopling reforms, which I believe have made us much more effective and which I was delighted to initiate when I was Leader of the House. She has undoubtedly ensured that the reputation of this House has been protected.

I am saddened—like others, I am sure—at the apparent decline of the reputation of the House of Commons and of Members of Parliament. I say "apparent", because I believe that much of the excellent work that is done in the House and for the integrity of the House is not translated sufficiently to the world at large. Sometimes the antics in the Chamber form an impression among people outside of what the House is like. It is up to all of us to exercise discipline in the Chamber to ensure that the right message goes abroad. The right hon. Member for West Bromwich, West did much to ensure that the reputation of the House was protected by presiding over our proceedings in the last Parliament in the way that she did.

To follow the lead of the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody), may I say what a splendid job the right hon. Member for West Bromwich, West has done as ambassadress for the House in the country and in the rest of the world. We greatly respect that.

I return to the point with which I started. I am not sure that the right hon. Member for West Bromwich, West likes this to be mentioned too often, because she does it often in private and without fanfare, but one of the things that new Members of the House will discover is that, after all the passionate debate and vigorous disagreement, there is much friendliness and camaraderie on both sides of the House. The right hon. Lady did much to promote that during the last Parliament by hosting dinners and happy occasions in the Speaker's Chambers, from which so many of us benefited.

The right hon. Member for West Bromwich, West and I share a particular interest in that we both have a great love of the old variety music hall. I was—I am not sure what is the right word—lucky or perhaps foolish enough to perform three times in those events. They were tremendous events and great fun. I remember on the last occasion someone from the Labour party, who is now a member of the Government saying at about 11 o'clock in the evening, "If only others around the country could see what happens in the House and the way in which we have gathered together for a friendly occasion, what a different view they might take of us." Certainly the right hon. Lady has done much to promote that.

So the right hon. Member for West Bromwich, West has many of the qualities that we seek in a Speaker. There is no greater honour that the House can bestow on one of its number than to accept her as Speaker of the House. It is a role which is so important in upholding our democratic traditions, but it is no easy task. In having the great pleasure to second the right hon. Lady as Speaker of the House, I am sure that I speak for everyone in wishing her well in doing the job in this Parliament.

3.1 pm

Mr. Tony Benn (Chesterfield)

Sir Edward, you and I have sat under eight Speakers and I should like to endorse everything that has been said by the hon. and right hon. Members who moved and seconded the motion to elect my right hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich, West (Miss Boothroyd) as Speaker of the House of Commons. Everything that they said about her is true, and I support it.

I must ask the indulgence of the House because I have not spoken as a Government Back Bencher since 1 August 1951 and, like every Government Back Bencher, I have been sitting by my telephone since the election. I can honestly claim that it is my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister's special wish that I should remain in the position that I now occupy.

Before my right hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich, West resumes the Chair, perhaps she will allow me to look at the role of the Speaker against the changing circumstances of the House of Commons.

Fifty years ago, the House controlled hundreds of millions of people in Asia and Africa. We even controlled the Bank of England at that time. Since then, many changes have occurred. I believe that, in the years that lie ahead, the function of the Speaker will be of crucial importance, for the following reasons. First, this Parliament will sit alongside a Scottish Parliament. That, I strongly welcome. It will sit alongside a Welsh Assembly, which I also strongly support. It will be sitting alongside a House of Lords, the hereditary element of which will have gone—a point on which I have, in the past, made some minor contribution. It will also have to come to terms with new relations with Europe, whatever form they take. I believe that the role of the Speaker in maintaining the central position of this House during that period will be of the very greatest importance.

There are also other powers with which we have to deal. For example, in relation to the global economy, there is the growing power of Mr. Dow Jones, who gives orders to most people in the world with his industrial averages, which are drawn up long after we go to bed, and which are taken very seriously by the Chancellor. We will have to deal with the role of the media and their enormous power. In the old days they reported us. Now they occupy our Palace in order to interview each other to explain what it is we are supposed to be saying to each other. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] If we are going to have open government, what about breaking up that incestuous little system known as the Lobby system under which people talk to each other anonymously and cause trouble to other people who never meant what they were said to have said at the time the leak occurred? There is a great deal of work to be done in that respect.

May I say one final word to the new Speaker? It is very rare that one can talk to the Speaker as a colleague before she occupies a position of such great importance. The nation elects a Government; every constituency elects a representative—each has quite a different function. The Government have to govern but we come here because we have been sent here from constituencies that have special problems. We come with our own convictions—believe it or not, we are all free men and women who can speak what we believe to be the case. [Interruption.] I know from my experience of her occupancy of the Chair that the Speaker's task in picking the Members she chooses to call will be based upon her deep conviction that the House is at its best when diversity and plurality of opinion is expressed without any abuse of a personal character, but arising from the deep conviction that leads us to come here. We are elected not in spite of our opinions but because of them.

3.6 pm

Miss Betty Boothroyd (West Bromwich, West)

It is just five years, Sir Edward, since I was able to address you in this way for the very first time. Then, I congratulated you upon your knighthood. Now, here we are, a Parliament later, and I have pleasure again in congratulating you, for two reasons. First, I congratulate you on being the Father of the House once more. To occupy that position in two successive Parliaments is something which I doubt we shall see repeated. I must also mention your successful return to the House. Your general election record now reads, "Contested 14: 14 not out." That is another feat that it will be very difficult to emulate.

Some hon. Members were not even born, Sir Edward, when you entered the Commons—the present Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer are only two of them.

You have seen seven previous Speakers occupy that Chair and now, as the eighth, I submit myself once again to the will of this House in accordance with the ancient custom. In so doing, I wish to express my thanks to my Deputies, all three of whom, for different reasons, are no longer Members. Mr. Michael Morris, who was our Chairman of Ways and Means, had the task of selecting amendments and chairing Committee stages of Bills that were taken on the Floor of the House. The Maastricht Bill had to be debated in this Chamber, of course, because it was a constitutional issue. It was more than that: it was a highly controversial issue. It says much for the skills and the patience of Michael Morris that, at the end of its lengthy proceedings, he was congratulated on his chairmanship by Members on both sides of the European divide. I shall miss him greatly.

I also want to pay tribute to the two other Deputy Speakers, Dame Janet Fookes and Sir Geoffrey Lofthouse. They abandoned their previous party loyalties and displayed impartiality and dedication through many an arduous sitting. The House owes much to those two former colleagues.

I express my personal gratitude to those who proposed and seconded my re-election and to those who have spoken in support of it. The hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody) and I have known each other over many years. We have worked together in the House. We worked together on my former party's national executive committee, and also in the European Parliament. I am greatly touched that, after all that proximity, the hon. Lady still speaks of me with warmth and affection.

The right hon. Member for South Norfolk (Mr. MacGregor) is equally well known both inside and outside the House. Perhaps it is not so well known that the right hon. Gentleman is an expert magician, who helped to fund his way through university as a professional conjuror. John MacGregor's ability to pull things unexpectedly out of the hat helped to make him such a successful Minister and Leader of the House. Thank you very much, John.

I extend a warm welcome and congratulations to all 260 new Members. I hope soon to be able to put a name to a personality. I am sure, however, that new Members will understand that it will be difficult to achieve that in a short time. No Speaker in memory has been confronted with such a task. Fitting names to faces will form part of my homework in the days ahead.

Ten years ago this summer, Sir Edward, I vividly remember hearing my immediate predecessor appeal for shorter speeches in the Chamber. Things do not change very much but, thanks to the continued operation of the 10-minute limit, some progress has been made. However, I repeat the plea for self-restraint by hon. Members. I give them the assurance that short speeches that are concentrated and well argued are the far more effective. I know that that applies to supplementary questions. The most effective supplementary question that I ever heard came from a Member sitting on the Opposition Benches. He rose and uttered one word. He said, "Why?" I have never seen such consternation on the face of a Minister. As Eric Morecambe would have said, "There's no answer to that."

What else can I suggest to hon. Members? I read recently the advice that George Washington—a very hot-tempered man—gave himself. The first President of the United States wrote: Use no reproachful language against anyone, neither curse nor revile". The Chair can deal with curses if they are outrageous, and it has done so. The banning of all reproaches and even the occasional reviling would, however, be a counsel of perfection. Nevertheless, let me remind all hon. Members that good temper and moderate language are the characteristics of a good parliamentarian.

When I was elected Speaker five years ago, Sir Edward, I promised to respect the rights of all hon. Members regardless of their office or lack of office, irrespective of their party, and to be aware always of the supreme duty of the Speaker to safeguard the traditions of the House, abandoning all previous commitments and being content only to serve the House. Those were my aims five years ago, and they constitute a pledge that I give again today.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That Miss Betty Boothroyd do take the Chair of this House as Speaker.

Whereupon SIR EDWARD HEATH left the Chair, and MISS BETTY BOOTHROYD was taken out of her place and conducted to the Chair by MR. JOHN MACGREGOR and MRS. GWYNETH DUNWOODY.

Madam Speaker-Elect (standing on the upper step)

Before I take the Chair as Speaker-Elect, I wish, of course, to thank the House for the honour that it has again bestowed on me. I am aware that it is the greatest honour it can give to any one of its Members. I pray that I shall justify its continued confidence, and I propose to do all within my power to preserve and to cherish its traditions.

3.15 pm
The Prime Minister (Mr. Tony Blair)

Madam Speaker-Elect, I rise to congratulate you on securing the unanimous and well-deserved support of every part of this House. Your election five years ago marked an historic turning point in the 600 years of your noble office, when you became this House's first woman Speaker. Every action that you have taken since then has confirmed us in our good opinion of you.

As you said, Madam Speaker-Elect, there are many new faces for you to get used to—indeed, there are many new faces for me to get used to, and some old ones. I am absolutely delighted that the lead that you demonstrated those five years ago in becoming the first woman Speaker has brought us to a point today where there are more women than ever before sitting in this House—120. It is an excellent start, although I am sure that some will feel that there is still room for improvement.

All Speakers are elected to speak for, and represent, this House and, in the modern television age, that responsibility is more daunting than ever before. Today, you are admired and respected throughout the world—for example, I understand that, in Japan among cable television viewers, you have a fervent cult following. In the United States, there is a cable television station that is dedicated to Prime Minister's Questions—there is no accounting for taste—and there is no doubt at all who has been the star of that show: it is neither the Prime Minister nor the Leader of the Opposition, but yourself as Madam Speaker.

Over the past five years, Madam Speaker-Elect, you have made a number of rulings from the Chair to guide our conduct. They have covered the full spectrum of parliamentary affairs—from the relationship between Parliament and the courts to, of course, the behaviour of individual Members of Parliament. In the last Parliament, you had the rare experience for a Speaker of having to give your casting vote. I hope that I shall not be accused of complacency when I say that I hope that that is not to be repeated in this Parliament. I have also asked new Ministers to take careful note of your strictures against electronic pagers and mobile phones. They will be switched off so that no overly eager member of the media can contact Ministers for the time that they are in the Chamber. We are considering extending that to all 24 hours of the day.

The right hon. Member for South Norfolk (Mr. MacGregor) and my hon. Friend the Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody) have eloquently set out why this House is right to re-elect you, Madam Speaker-Elect. Their speeches, although formal for this occasion, showed the absolutely sincere and genuine feeling that hon. Members on both sides of the House have for you. It is a great achievement on your part that they feel that way. There is your total unflappability and your quick wit which, on occasions, we admire and from which, on other occasions, we suffer; and your command of the Chamber and authority.

What all of us who have experienced your chairmanship and speakership in the House over the past few years would say is that, most of all, you are genuinely a lover of this Parliament and a respecter of it. You believe in it, you cherish it, you protect its Members and I think that I speak for everyone here when I say that you have always shown total impartiality—no fear or favour to anyone. We cannot say higher praise than that.

Madam Speaker-Elect, whatever aspersions have been cast on the conduct of Members, and whatever concerns people feel from time to time as they watch the debates of the House or Prime Minister's questions, no one has ever doubted your dignity, your integrity or your capacity to do your job well. In the weeks before the last Parliament ended, the House was sometimes a little fraught; you called it "pre-election tension." However, throughout that time, you never lost your authority or good humour or your ability to put us in our places while retaining the absolute respect of the House.

Madam Speaker-Elect, it is my duty to praise you but it is also my pleasure to praise you. It is praise that you have well earned and will continue to earn.

3.19 pm
Mr. John Major (Huntingdon)

Madam Speaker-Elect, I am delighted to join the Prime Minister in congratulating you on your re-election to the Chair following the excellent speeches by the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody) and my right hon. Friend the Member for South Norfolk (Mr. MacGregor), and a cherished contribution by the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn).

When you first became our Speaker, you did so with substantial cross-party support. Your success is shown by the fact that you were re-elected today without opposition and with cross-party acclamation. We are all delighted to see you back in the Chair of our House. I know that in that Chair you will continue to display for all of us—long-serving Members and new Members alike—the qualities that have been evident in the past few years: fairness, common sense and, when needed, as sometimes in a fractious House it is, a touch of toughness distilled with good humour, to keep the order that is necessary to allow our debates to flow properly.

This House is a house of tradition, and it is a good tradition that in a new Parliament we meet first with a single common purpose—the election of our Speaker. In a Parliament in which—who knows?—many disputes may lie ahead, it is comforting to begin on a matter on which there is complete unanimity: to restore you to the Chair of our proceedings.

We in the House expect a great deal of our Speaker. The job specification is pretty daunting: the patience of Job and the wisdom of Solomon are only the basic requirements. We demand also impartiality, independence and fairness. We also like the Speaker to call us when we wish to speak and never to call those that we do not especially wish to hear. Sadly, Madam Speaker-Elect, you occasionally disappoint us on both counts from time to time, and we all have to get used to that.

Of course, the Speaker must also tolerantly accept the patently bogus points of order that are raised from time to time, and do so with a limited air of patience. Madam Speaker-Elect, if I may be permitted to interject a note of controversy about an old friend, the appointment to office of the new Minister for Sport may slightly reduce your burden in that respect.

It may be thought that it would be impossible for a House to produce such a paragon to govern its affairs, yet it does, and has in the past. In the past five years, Madam Speaker-Elect, it has become obvious that it has done so yet again.

It is often said in the House that the rights of Back Benchers are as sacred as those of Front Benchers. It is usually said by Back Benchers, and invariably Front Benchers pay lip service to that principle. I find myself in a unique position in the House. There are lots of Front Benchers, and even more Back Benchers who wish to be Front Benchers; I am a Front Bencher who wishes in due course to become a Back Bencher, so let me assert that the rights of Back Benchers are as important as those of Front Benchers. On Front Bench or Back Bench, Madam Speaker-Elect, I am happy to leave my fate in your safe hands.

Madam Speaker-Elect, the House has always expected a great deal of its Speaker. Of one of your 19th-century predecessors it was said: The manner in which he lives—his house, his table, his demeanour—render his receptions the most pleasing and magnificent possible". Today—in that respect, at least—we are a little less demanding. I promise you that we do not expect to be feasted on fish, fowl and claret at the end of each of our debates—in that sense, you are better off.

The bargain cuts both ways, does it not? How much better off are we today than the House was under another of your predecessors, Mr. Speaker Manners Sutton, whose initial qualities for being Speaker were that he never…appeared to pay any attention to the privileges or orders of the House"? As to his knowledge of Parliament, it was said: Some inconvenience will at first arise from his want of knowledge". More chaos than inconvenience, I would think from my experience of this House.

I warmly welcome all the new Members of Parliament from all parties to what is I believe the most remarkable institution in the world. I hope that they will enjoy their stay here, however long or short it may be. None of the new or old Members who has followed the proceedings of the House under your guidance, Madam Speaker-Elect, would say anything other than how fortunate we are to have your knowledge, your industry and your almost unfailing good humour at our service.

Today, your office is both much more demanding and much more professional than it has been at any stage in our long history. You are charged with protecting the rights of the House and with imposing good order, even in moments of high drama. Whether we are Front Benchers or Back Benchers, we owe it to you to help you to do so. We owe it to you in the interests of good debate, good order and the reputation of this House. Madam Speaker-Elect, may good fortune always attend you. I wish you every satisfaction in carrying out the duties of your historic office.

3.26 pm
Mr. Paddy Ashdown (Yeovil)

Madam Speaker-Elect, it gives me great pleasure on behalf of those on these Benches to congratulate you on your re-election. I am sure that you will understand that for me to be able to use the phrase "these Benches" on this occasion—with the same feeling, but with a little more accuracy than I used it before—also gives me pleasure.

As the Leader of the Opposition has just said, the fact that you were re-elected to this House and in this House without opposition or dissent is a testimony to the respect in which you are held. For our part, we know you from the last Parliament as a stern defender of minority rights, especially when those minorities were large minorities. The wisdom and skill that you have used will again be greatly in need of application, given the new balance of power in this House of Commons—not the least factor of which is the much larger representation from my party.

On Thursday of last week, the people of Britain voted for change. I hope that this Parliament will be a Parliament of change—a change to our institutions, a change, I hope, to our constitution and a change to the culture and the way in which we conduct our business in this House. I hope that it will be an historic Parliament which becomes known as a great Parliament of reform. If it is to be so, we will—in this Parliament, as in the last—depend heavily on your skill and wisdom to guide us through what will be a momentous and historic Parliament. We know that those gifts for which you have been re-elected will fail neither you nor us in the period ahead, and we wish you well and congratulate you on your re-election.

3.28 pm
Mrs. Margaret Ewing (Moray)

On behalf of the joint Scottish National party-Plaid Cymru group, I briefly echo the congratulations that have been tendered to you, Madam Speaker-Elect. I well recall that, at the beginning of the last Parliament, you very much appreciated that the smaller parties had all supported your election to the Chair. The fairness and objectivity that you displayed towards us showed that you recognised our support.

This Parliament will be dominated by constitutional affairs affecting Scotland and Wales, as well as the European dimension. It is not our intention to be an awkward squad in any way, but—on behalf of all of my colleagues—I recognise that you will appreciate the various views that will come forward from all parts of the House. We know that the door to your office will always be open for discussion about what may be complex issues. We wish you very well in this Parliament.

3.29 pm
Mr. David Trimble (Upper Bann)

It is with great pleasure that I rise to endorse much of what has been said already and to express on behalf of the Ulster Unionist party our pleasure at seeing you, Madam Speaker-Elect, re-elected as Speaker. Indeed, it confirms—as the past five years have confirmed—that our decision five years ago was right. We look forward to the next five years under your speakership. In saying that, I merely wish to endorse what has been said so eloquently by many other hon. Members.

May I add a little note of qualification to the comments made by the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) and by the hon. Member for Moray (Mrs. Ewing)? The changes that we shall see in the course of the next five years with regard to Europe and the regions of the United Kingdom include changes that we expect to see with regard to the region of the United Kingdom that we represent. We expect to see solid progress there and that the same quality of democracy enjoyed by the rest of the United Kingdom will be enjoyed also by the people whom we represent.

In those terms, we look forward to this Parliament as an opportunity. We do so confident in the fact that, as a small party on the Opposition Benches, we can rely on your fairness and impartiality as we have over the past five years.

3.30 pm
Rev. Ian Paisley (North Antrim)

I congratulate you, Madam Speaker-Elect, on your election to the speakership of this ancient and honourable House of Commons.

In the last Parliament, I was one of the few Members whom you had to order out. That experience was not new to me as a parliamentarian, but I shall never forget it. I know that you held nothing against me afterwards and I can assure you that I had no cause to complain because the events that unfolded afterwards proved my point. However, at the start of this Parliament, when the most serious matters relating to that part of the United Kingdom that I come from—Northern Ireland—will be on the agenda, my party, although small, will be most happy to know that you will preside here.

I endorse everything that has been said concerning your past conduct towards small parties. Your record on defending minority parties is well known. You know the moods of the House and of its Members, and our deep feelings when certain matters are discussed. Your rule has always been strong but sympathetic; it has always been robust but reasonable. We know that you will treat all parties—especially minority parties—in the House as you have treated them in the past. I believe that, in the coming days, through your conduct and control of this House, you will write other great chapters in your speakership.

It has been well said that it is easier to control outsiders than members of your own family. That will be your task in this House. Having done so well in a previous House, I know that you are well able to do that job, and I wish you well.

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