Betty Boothroyd: West Bromwich MP who replaced her remembers meeting through haze of cigarette smoke

Former Member of Parliament for West Bromwich West Adrian Bailey shares his fondest memories of his predecessor and colleague Baroness Boothroyd

The former MP for West Bromwich West Adrian Bailey has paid tribute to his predecessor Baroness Boothroyd, the first woman Speaker of the Commons whose death has been announced today, at the age of 96.

Mr Bailey and the Baroness both belonged to the Labour Party and he won the seat in 2000 following Baroness Boothroyd's resignation, triggering a by-election.

Reminiscing on the first time he met the 'formidable' woman, Adrian Bailey said: "My first memory of her was seeing her through a haze of cigarette smoke.

"She had a great sense of humour and was really down to earth even when she was the speaker of the House of Commons, she had to be absolutely politically impartial.

"To be the speaker of the House of Commons you’ve not only got to be strong and authoritative but you’ve got to be seen as fair and well-liked as well and she was all of those things because of her formidable personality."

Westminster remembers Baroness Betty Boothroyd, the Commons first female speaker with 'no nonsense' attitude who 'broke the glass ceiling', ITV News' John Ray reports

Baroness Boothroyd served as Labour MP for West Bromwich for 27 years from 1973 to 2000, becoming Speaker of the House from 1992 till 2000.

Steve McCabe, the MP for the near-by constituency of Selly Oak called her an "awesome" and "fearsome woman" who also had a "kind and thoughtful side".

He admitted to being slightly scared of her as a new MP but admired how she commanded the House of Commons and was totally in control of her domain.

Betty Boothroyd winning her seat in West Bromwich Credit: ITV News Central

He said under her leadership, debates were crisp and people behaved themselves.

Mr McCabe says she'll be remembered for her massive impact on the role of speaker, as someone who modernised the role and wasn't shy to make her views known.

He remembers some advice she gave him as a young MP: "to know what you're going to say, know how quickly you can say it, and don't get lost meandering."

Andrew Bridgen, the MP for North West Leicestershire, described her as "a great Speaker" and a "trailblazer for women in Parliament, achieving the office of Speaker and doing it on merit".

He described her as "highly regarded" across the Palace of Westminster.

Baroness Boothroyd entered the House of Lords in 2001 shortly after resigning as an MP and the Speaker.

Current speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle called her "an inspiring woman, but she was also an inspirational politician, and someone I was proud to call my friend".