Betty Boothroyd entered Parliament in 1973. She had a distinguished parliamentary career serving on many select committees and as a whip.
In 1992 the Labour MP for West Bromwich West became the first woman Speaker in over 700 years of Commons history. Well-liked by MPs, she stood no nonsense in the Commons chamber and was a firm but fair arbiter of the House’s rules.
In 1992 she was named Parliamentarian of the Year, and in her role as Speaker she won the respect of members from all parties as she stood up for the rights of backbenchers against ministers and the executive.
Born in Yorkshire, she lived in America in the 1950s where she helped one John Kennedy on his election campaigns. She joined the Labour Party as a teenager and spent some time as a secretary to various MPs. After entering Parliament she won a seat on Labour’s National Executive Committee.
She has at least eight honorary degrees and several “Freedom of the City” awards. The screening of prime minister’s questions overseas, notably in the US, made her an internationally famous figure. She was Chancellor of the Open University for twelve years.