Betty Boothroyd to be awarded honorary degree

Thursday 13 March 2003

Former speaker of the House of Commons, The Rt Hon Baroness Betty Boothroyd P.C. is to be awarded an honorary degree by the University of St Andrews.

Peer of the Realm Lady Boothroyd will receive a Doctor of Laws (LLD) at this year’s summer Graduations (Friday 26th June 2003).

As speaker of the House of Commons from 1992 to 2000, Lady Boothroyd was the first woman to be elected to the Speaker’s Chair in the 700 years of the British Parliament. She was also the first to come from the Opposition benches since 1835, an achievement made possible by her supporters in every party in the House.

The woman, described by Prime Minister Tony Blair as ‘a national treasure and institution’, was awarded a life of peerage on her retirement and sits in the House of Lords as an independent Cross Bencher.

She first entered the Commons at a by-election in 1973 as Labour MP for West Bromwich. She subsequently served as a Government whip, joined the first British delegation to the European Parliament and was elected to the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party, where she took a prominent part in expelling Trotskyisy extremists and making Labour electable again.

As Speaker, she welcomed many overseas leaders to the House of Commons and represented the House on many official occasions, at home and abroad, most notably the state visits to Westminster of President Mandela, President Yeltsin, President Clinton and President Chirac. She addressed the Russian Duma and other overseas legislatures and was a special guest of the Speaker of India’s Lok Sabha at the 50th anniversary celebrations of India’s independence.

Born in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, where her parents worked in the local woolen mills, she has been active in politics since her childhood. She won a national speaking award at 23 and worked as a secretary and personal assistant to three leading Labour parliamentarians while she tried to win a seat herself. In 1960, she took a sabbatical year off to work as a volunteer in the John F. Kennedy Presidential campaign and became a full-time secretary to the Congressman.

Lady Boothroyd has been awarded the Freedom of the City of London and during her eight years as Speaker, she was voted Parliamentarian of the Year, Personality of the Year and Communicator of the Year.

She was installed as Chancellor of the Open University in 1994 and is patron of many good causes and charities.

The graduation ceremony will take place on Friday 26th June 2003 at 3pm in Younger Hall, North Street, St Andrews.



Further information re. media access to the ceremony will be released in due course.

Issued by Beattie Media On behalf of the University of St Andrews Contact Gayle Cook on 01334 467227, mobile 07900 050103, or email [email protected] Ref: hon2003-BBoothroyd View the latest University news at

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