MP Martin is new Commons Sppeaker

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Labour MP Michael Martin has been voted the new Speaker of the House of Commons.

Labour MP Michael Martin has been voted the new Speaker of the House of Commons.

He beat off 11 opponents, including main challenger Sir George Young, to succeed Betty Boothroyd to the high profile post.

His nomination was backed by 370 votes to eight against, after a day of high drama and controversy.

Veteran left wing MP Tony Benn had earlier called for changes in the way the Speaker is selected. He wanted a simple one-off ballot to replace the existing multi-vote .

Father of the House Sir Edward Heath said he sympathised with the bid, which was widely backed by the House, but said he was powerless to change it.

Mr Martin was in a strong position once voting began, with main challenger Sir George one of the first to be voted out.

Finally, after a gruelling series of votes and more than six hours of debate, Mr Martin was, as tradition dictates, dragged to the Speaker's chair to assume the post.

To loud cheers and applause, the 55-year-old son of a merchant seaman from Glasgow beat off his challengers.

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