Before we proceed to the next Opposition day debate, I am now in a position to announce the result of the election of a Deputy Speaker, following the ballot held today.
Five hundred and fifty-one votes were cast, with no spoilt ballot papers. The counting went to six stages. Five hundred and thirteen valid votes were cast in that round, excluding those ballot papers whose preferences had been exhausted. The quota to be reached was therefore 257 votes. The person elected First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means with 273 votes is Mrs Eleanor Laing. The other candidate in that round was Mr Brian Binley, who received 240 votes.
Eleanor Laing will take up her post immediately. I congratulate the hon. Lady warmly and I may say on behalf of my colleagues and myself that we all greatly look forward to working with her. In the process I should like, on behalf, I am sure, of the whole House, to thank all the candidates for participating in this election and for a contest which showed the House at its best.
In a moment—I am saving the hon. Lady up.
The results under the single transferable vote system will be made available as soon as possible in the Vote Office and published on both the intranet and the internet for public viewing. Let us hear first from the hon. Lady.
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. May I welcome the announcement you have just made? I thank the Clerks and Officers of the House for the way they conducted today’s election, and for doing it so swiftly. I would like, on behalf of all the candidates who took part, to thank each of the other candidates for the demure and pleasant way the election was conducted. I thank the House for placing its confidence in me to let me become part of your team. Thank you.
Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. I would like to echo the comments of the Deputy Leader of the House. The hon. Member for Epping Forest has a strong record in political and constitutional reform and will make a very good Deputy Speaker.