Cat Smith – 2024 Speech in Support of Lindsay Hoyle Remaining as Speaker

The speech made by Cat Smith, the Labour MP for Lancaster and Wyre, in the House of Commons on 9 July 2024.

I beg to move, That Sir Lindsay Hoyle do take the Chair of this House as Speaker.

As far as I am concerned, the best thing about having Lindsay as Speaker is how good it is to have someone in the Chair who does not have an accent. I have been talking to lots of my constituents over the past six weeks, and they agree with me! So I have figured it out, Lindsay. We are not the ones with the accents; it is everyone else.

But seriously, Lindsay is a great champion for Lancashire, just as he is for this House of Commons. None of us in Lancashire could have imagined that Nancy Pelosi would walk those famous cobbles of Coronation Street, but Lindsay, you did it. It seems that no part of Lancashire’s cultural reputation is out of bounds for Lindsay when hosting international speakers—indeed, having a pint of mild in the Rovers Return with Nancy Pelosi.

It is a great pleasure today to be able to speak about my good friend from Chorley. I have several friends from Chorley, including my office manager Steven, who often regales my Lancaster constituency office with tales of his childhood in Lancashire’s second town. One of my favourite anecdotes is of Chorley zoo—I did not know that Chorley had a zoo. Apparently, it is known as Chog zoo; that might be the first reference in Hansard to Chog, which is the slang for Chorley. Upon further investigation, the zoo was in fact Pets Corner in Astley Park. However, to this day, I suspect that a young Steven was mistaking the Hoyle household menagerie for an actual zoo. With cats, dogs, parrots and tortoises, Lindsay Hoyle really does live out the truism that we are a nation of animal lovers.

If you head three hours south from Lancashire, you will find yourself here. Arriving in this grand building as a newly elected Member is daunting—the weight of pressure that you feel to deliver for your constituents, using parliamentary procedures that seem so confusing to bring about the change you have promised, can be immense. It can be difficult to know where to start, but a good place to start is by electing a good Speaker of the House of Commons, one with experience of eventualities that could not be foreseen. Lindsay recalled in his remarks the covid restrictions we needed to adapt to at speed during the pandemic. Indeed, he is the Speaker who steered us through that pandemic and steered us through those Rees-Mogg congas. He adapted procedures for the times we found ourselves in.

It is also important to know that we have a Speaker who champions the voices of us Back Benchers, and one who ensures that all voices—Government and Opposition—are heard. Our Speaker is fair, impartial and independent. Newly elected Members will find a great friend in our Speaker, and I know I have. Being from Lancashire myself, I had the good fortune of knowing Lindsay before I was elected, and over the years he has been a great source of advice and guidance, some of which I took and some of which I chose to ignore. All I can say is that the advice I ignored I regret ignoring, and live to tell the consequences. Despite being annoyingly right about many things, which is a good Lancashire trait by the way, he will ensure that his door is open to all Members at times of need. I can vouch that he does a good brew—it is Yorkshire Tea though—but for those who prefer something from the right side of the Pennines and from the red rose county, I can say that his is the only place on this estate outside my own office I have managed to get a hot Vimto.

However, we all have our character flaws, and regrettably Lindsay does not support Lancashire’s finest football team, Barrow, instead donning the colours of Bolton Wanderers.

Yasmin Qureshi (Bolton South and Walkden) (Lab)


Cat Smith

We have a Bolton Wanderers fan.

We should note that that team has both blue and red on its crest, and I think that exemplifies Mr Speaker’s even-handedness. As a proud champion of Lancashire’s rugby league tradition, outside Westminster his favourite place is cheering on Warrington Wolves, and in the summer months Lancashire county cricket club. Like all good sports people, Lindsay knows fair play and hard work. For all those reasons and so many more, I am proud and honoured to propose that Sir Lindsay Hoyle takes the Chair today.