Betty Boothroyd: 5 Iconic Videos Of The First Female Commons Speaker

Betty Boothroyd gestures while making her speech for the election as Speaker in the House of Commons.
Betty Boothroyd gestures while making her speech for the election as Speaker in the House of Commons.

Betty Boothroyd gestures while making her speech for the election as Speaker in the House of Commons.

Senior politicians have paid tribute to “trailblazer” Betty Boothroyd after it was announced she had died aged 93.

The first female speaker of the House of Commons was remembered for her “no-nonsense style” and how she scolded raucous MPs.

Current speaker Lindsay Hoyle described her as “one of a kind” and a “sharp, witty and formidable” woman.

She was the first woman speaker in the more than 700-year history of the role — which she held from April 1992 to October 2000.

Hoyle previously revealed the Lady Boothroyd would put him in his place during regular phone calls when she would tell him whether he was doing things right or wrong.

In April 2019 she publicly criticised then speaker John Bercow over his attitude to former president Donald Trump addressing parliament during a state visit.

Born in Dewsbury, in Yorkshire, Boothroyd worked as a professional dancer from 1946 to 1948 and appeared in pantomime in London’s West End before going into politics.

Here we take a look at some of the brilliant videos that have been shared in her memory.

‘Mr Hughes Spit It Out!’

One brilliant clip from March 1997 shows Boothroyd telling off then Lib Dem MP Simon Hughes who was talking about the prorogation of parliament.

Boothroyd told him: “This is so time consuming. Come on Mr Hughes, spit it out! Come on!”

When he stood up a second time amid heckles and hesitated to speak, Boothroyd told him: “There is no point waiting for silence, the honourable gentleman isn’t going to get silence.”

She bellowed: “Produce your voice Mr Hughes!”

Throwing Ian Paisley Out Of The Commons 

Firebrand preacher Dr Ian Paisley was once thrown out of the Commons by Boothroyd for calling a Tory cabinet minister a liar.

In a tense stand-off in December 1993, Boothroyd reprimanded the Democratic Unionist Party leader over his accusation that then Northern Ireland secretary Sir Patrick Mayhew had spoken “falsehoods”.

Boothroyd later recalled that the DUP leader had “no grudge against her” and, when they met on his return to parliament, he seemed “full of beans” and offered her his hand.

“I want to thank you for the gracious way you threw me out the other day,” he said. “I got the front page of the Belfast Telegraph and you got page three!”

‘I Am Sick And Tired Of Hearing You!’

In February 1997, Boothroyd cut off then prime minister John Major to scold Labour MP Dale Campbell-Savours.

“Order!” she shouted. “Mr Campbell-Savours, I am sick and tired of hearing you shout out from a sedentary position.”

She went on to tell him a great deal of pressure had gone into bringing the PM and opposition leader to the dispatch box, adding: “I want to hear that debate in silence!”

Shouting ‘Order!’ In The Lords

Lady Boothroyd once had her fellow peers in stitches after she shouted “order!” at them during a debate.

“A very good way to begin the week I think,” she laughed. One Lord could be heard commenting “old habits die hard!”

Making History As First Female Speaker 

April 1992 Boothroyd was elected as the first ever female speaker in the House of Commons.

“Before I take the chair,” she told MPs after being elected“I wish to thank the House for the very great honour it has bestowed on me.

“I pray that I should justify its confidence and I pledge that I shall do all in my power to preserve and cherish its traditions.”