Baroness Betty Boothroyd dies age 93: Tributes paid to first woman Speaker of the House of Commons
Baroness Betty Boothroyd, the first woman to be elected Speaker of the House of Commons, has died aged 93.
The current Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle paid tribute to Lady Boothroyd as “one of a kind”.
She became the first woman Speaker in April 1992, staying on in the role until October 2000.
Sir Lindsay said: “Not only was Betty Boothroyd an inspiring woman, but she was also an inspirational politician, and someone I was proud to call my friend.
“To be the first woman Speaker was truly ground-breaking and Betty certainly broke that glass ceiling with panache.
“She was from Yorkshire, and I am from Lancashire - so there was always that friendly rivalry between us. But from my point of view, it was heartening to hear a northern voice speaking from the chair.
“She stuck by the rules, had a no-nonsense style, but any reprimands she did issue were done with good humour and charm.
“Betty was one of a kind. A sharp, witty and formidable woman - and I will miss her.”
Senior Labour MP Margaret Hodge described Baroness Boothroyd as “inspirational” and “a trailblazer for women”.
Baroness Boothroyd was born on October 8 1929 in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire.
She was the only daughter of mill workers and her father was a trade unionist.
Describing her political upbringing she once said: “I came out of the womb into the Labour movement.”
After a brief career as a dancer, she worked in Labour MP Barbara Castle’s office and on the campaign to elect John F. Kennedy as President of the United States.
Following four unsuccessful attempts to enter parliament –in Leicester South East in 1957, Peterborough in 1959, Nelson and Colne in 1968, and Rossendale in 1970 - she was finally elected as Labour MP for West Bromwich in May 1973 .
In 1987 Baroness Boothroyd became a Deputy Speaker under the Speaker Bernard Weatherill.
Five years later she was the first woman to be elected Speaker.
Traditionally everyone to hold to position wore a full bottom wig, however she chose not to.
No Speaker since has worn the headpiece.
Senior Labour MP Harriet Harman said: “Betty Boothroyd was a remarkable woman.
“For her, as a woman to get to chair the over-whelmingly male Commons she had to be tough, professional, authoritative and indomitable. Betty was all those things. And she showed us women how to do it.”