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John Bercow pays tribute to speaker's chaplain Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin as a 'great servant of parliament'

by Cara Bentley

The role of speaker's chaplain involves saying daily prayers in the chamber, conducting a weekly service in the parliament's chapel and taking pastoral care of MPs and their staff.

Rev Preb Rose Hudson-Wilkin has been the chaplain since 2010 but in November she will become the Bishop of Dover.

The Speaker, John Bercow MP, whose role it is to chair Commons debates, announced on Monday that he will be standing down as speaker and MP at the next election, or on 31st October if that comes first, which lead to a series of tributes to him by MPs.

However, it was a point of order by David Lammy MP that prompted the speaker to turn the House's praise to his chaplain when he said: "Thank you also for appointing Rose Hudson-Wilkin as chaplain when the establishment might have preferred a different choice".

Mr Bercow responded: "I want to endorse in triplicate what he's just said about the Rt Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons, great servant to parliament, in her place in the under gallery now - the source of comfort and inspiration to me for the last nine years."

She shook her head bashfully as he continued: "There has not been a single day, when I have not felt delighted and reinforced in my insistence - and it was my insistence - my insistence, that Rose would be appointed to that role. There is always scope for legitimate difference of opinion but there were people, part of what I have to say outside of this place I will call the 'bigot faction', who volunteered their views as to what an inapposite appointment I had made with all the force and insistence at their disposal, which sadly from their point of view were in inverse proportion to their knowledge of the subject matter of the discussion.

"They hadn't met Rose, they didn't know her, they couldn't form of a view. They had a stupid, dim-witted, atavistic, racist and rancid opposition to the Rev Rose. I was right, they were wrong; the House loves her!"

Speaking a few minutes earlier to Christian DUP MP Jim Shannon, who praised the speaker for his work for backbenchers and his humour, Mr Bercow then praised how Mr Shannon acted out his Christian faith.

"The Honourable Gentleman is a person of strong religious faith, as it happens I am not. I've always been proud of my Jewish roots, my Jewish identity, but I am not a practising religious person.

"What I admire about the honourable gentlemen, and I think makes him a most lovable figure in the House of Commons, is that he radiates warmth, empathy and compassion and he is one of those people of faith who doesn't spend time preaching it, he lives it."

Listen to the audio of the Speaker praising Rev Preb Rose Hudson-Wilkin here:

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