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Full text of the Conservative leader's Commons tribute to outgoing Speaker, Michael Martin.

"Mr Speaker, it is right that the House has this opportunity to pay tribute to the service that you have given.

And for once I can actually say “you” while remaining in order.

I share so much of what the Prime Minister has said about your record, about what you’ve done for your constituents, and about what you’ve done for this House.

Yours was a very moving speech.

Everyone could hear your passion about this place, and all of us who care about the House of Commons, who care about Parliament, its place in public life, we must all deliver what you said we must, which is to restore trust in the House of Commons.

It is fair to say there have been quieter times to be Speaker – although some of your predecessors may have had cause to think they picked even shorter straws.

After all, seven of them were actually beheaded.

But you have presided over the House at a time when there has been widespread concern about an over-mighty Executive and the diminished role of Parliament.

And that was not something that was in your power alone to stop.

And let us be clear about the expenses issue.

The whole House shares in its responsibility for what has happened in recent weeks.

As you said in your remarks, it was the House as a whole – not all of us, but the House as a whole – which last July rejected many of the reforms put forward by the Members Estimate Committee – which you, Mr Speaker, chair.

As you noted in your statement, some of the proposals now being put forward to clean up this place are in fact similar to the ones your Committee recommended a year ago.

Fortunately, a consensus exists in this place now to accept what it was not willing to accept then.

We all share collective responsibility for that delay.

And we all now have a responsibility to restore the reputation of this House.

Mr Speaker, you have served exactly three decades in Parliament.

During that time, you have shown huge dedication – both in public service to your constituents, and to the House itself.

You have not only served as Speaker, but as Chairman of the House of Commons Commission, and of the Speaker’s Conference; and before that as Chairman of committees, Member of the Speaker’s Panel of Chairmen for over a decade, and Chairman of the Scottish Grand Committee.

It is a remarkable record of distinguished service, matched only by the huge dedication you have shown to your constituency in Glasgow – starting from your period as a Councillor.

As the Prime Minister said, your life story is inspiring – not just to people in this House, not just to people in Glasgow, but to people up and down our country.

I know you will be missed hugely in Glasgow North East when you stand down as a Member of Parliament.

I am sure that both sides of the House are very much looking forward to the by-election.

I can only hope that all your constituents will be as friendly to me as you have been.

Your approach to chairing debates has been quiet but persuasive.

Your decency and kindness are quite clear.

We saw your decency during the Baby P debate last year.

And as for your kindness, I referred a few days ago to the advice you gave me when I was a new Back Bencher in 2001.

It was typical of your approachability – to all Members, but especially backbenchers – which you have made a personal trademark throughout your time in office.

The last Speaker, Speaker Boothroyd, was the first woman Speaker.

You, Mr Speaker, were the first Catholic since the Reformation.

It is easy to overlook the change that the election of you and your immediate predecessor as Speaker signify.

But I was struck by one comment you made in an interview after becoming Speaker.

When asked about the procedures of this place, you recalled some wise words of Jim Callaghan: 

“Always remember that things that are traditional shouldn’t be thrown out just because they are traditional; and things that are traditional shouldn’t necessarily be kept for the sake of being traditional”.

This is not only a good principle for reform of the Commons, but I would argue for every other institution in our country as well.

I end by noting another interview – to the Politics Show – which provides several lessons I think for us all.
In that interview you emphasised the importance of switching off from politics, in your case by playing the bagpipes.

You said the secret of Prime Minister’s Questions was to relax and calm down, and not get psyched up. 

That’s a piece of advice I will perhaps one day try to take.

You said the best way to approach colleagues in the House was to give them just enough rope before then pulling them in.

And you said you liked to smile at Members just before you told them off.

As I can see you’re smiling now, I think it’s time to bring my remarks to a close.

I know, and we all know, you will now enjoy spending more quality time with your wife Mary and with your beloved grandchildren.

So both on a personal level, and on behalf of everyone on these Benches, can I wish you the very best for the years ahead."

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