IT has been a busy couple of weeks, both locally and up in Westminster, but as I am writing my weekly column on the day of Betty Boothroyd’s funeral I wanted to pay tribute to her extraordinary legacy. 

Lady Boothroyd was the Labour MP for West Bromwich and later West Bromwich West from 1973 to 2000.

In 1992, she broke a 700 year-old glass ceiling when she became the first woman to be elected Speaker of the House of Commons, a position she held for eight years.

After leaving the Commons, she took up a seat in the House of Lords.

Prior to becoming an MP (on her fifth attempt), Lady Boothroyd worked for another big figure in the Labour Party, Barbara Castle, but took time out to travel to Washington and work on the successful campaign to elect JFK in the 1960 Presidential Election against Richard Nixon.

While we still have more to do to achieve gender equality (both in parliament and the wider society) there is no question that women in politics faced a far bigger challenge when Lady Boothroyd was first campaigning in the 1950s and 1960s than women do now. When she was eventually elected in 1973, only 20 of 650 MPs were women.

Many would not have continued after 16 years of trying and failing to be elected, but her persistence paid off.

We would have been worse off without her.

It is no coincidence that the huge influx of female MPs in 1997 came after five years of having Lady Boothroyd as the face of the House of Commons.

She conducted her duties with fairness, kindness and a sense of humour and many will have taken great inspiration from her.

Parliamentary tradition was also very important to Betty, and when paying tribute to her, many MPs spoke of being on the end of a telling off for not following parliamentary procedure.

There is a clip circulating on social media of her refusing to take a Point of Order from Sir Edward Leigh MP until he put on a top hat (a tradition that was abolished in 1998).

I met Lady Boothroyd just the once, but it was a privilege I will never forget. We will all miss her.

Back to Central Devon. Details of my activity in our constituency and up in Westminster during the past couple of weeks can be found at: .

This includes promoting new exhibits at The Museum of Dartmoor Life, discussing County Lines drug trafficking with Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez in Okehampton and meeting the Post Office Banking Director in Ashburton.

We discussed funding for an outreach service to Buckfastleigh and anti-money laundering regulations that are limiting the amount of cash that customers can pay into bank accounts via the Post Office in one go, causing problems for some businesses. I am on the case.