HL Deb 11 August 1972 vol 334 cc1448-51

11.41 a.m.


My Lords, with the permission of the House, I should like, since time is going on, to refer to the fact that we have now reached almost the penultimate lap of what has been a rather heavy Parliamentary year. I accept, of course, that the House will be faced with a little more work during September and October, but I think that this would be a suitable moment for me to express my gratitude to all Members of the House for the way in which your Lordships have stayed the course so far with assiduity and, if I may say so, with remarkable good temper. May I therefore take this opportunity of wishing all Members of your Lordships' House a very enjoyable respite, be it on shore or on moor, as the case may be. I should like to congratulate noble Lords opposite on the gay sartorial note which they are striking to-day. There were two Labour buttonholes opposite; I am sad to see there is now only one. However, there is also, I find, a marvellous holiday tie on what I now learn is the "Earls' Bench ".

I feel, however—and I should like to add this—that we owe an immense debt of gratitude, and we are very conscious of it particularly at this moment, to all the staff of this House. Compared with another place our staff are very much smaller in numbers, and yet in the past few months they have had to serve a House which has been sitting for unusually long hours. They have, as we all know, been under really taxing strain. I should therefore like to thank the Clerks and all their assistants, and perhaps especially those in the Printed Paper Office whose work has been added to by the printing difficulties of which we have been aware. I should like to thank Black Rod and his staff, the attendants and the Doorkeepers, who so much facilitate our communication within the House. I should like to thank the Hansard staff—it is remarkable what good sense they manage to make of our discussions; the policemen and custodians, who have managed to keep us safe and sound, at least so far; and last, but by no means least, the ladies and the one solitary male in our ever-willing Refreshment Department. We know the burden that they have carried and the added difficulties which they have had to cope with as a result of the reconstruction of the Dining Room. I am sure that all your Lordships will wish to join me in this expression of thanks to our staff, who have served us so very well.

11.45 a.m.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Earl for his statement. I shall not repeat his tributes beyond saying that we all wholeheartedly echo them. I would add that what has been particular striking is, despite the strain on the staff, the extreme courtesy with which we have been met on every occasion—even when that disaster struck and they ran out of sausages in the Dining Room. We are exceedingly grateful to our staff, who contribute quite notably to the good atmosphere that we are able to maintain.

May I add, with no desire to go back over the arguments of the last few days, that I should also like to pay tributes to your Lordships, and indeed, particularly as I was too exhausted to do so last night when the noble Earl thanked his Front Bench, to thank my noble friends Lord Beswick, Lord Greenwood of Rossendale and others on this side who have been so active, and not least the noble and learned Lord, Lord Stow Hill, who has contributed to the education of us all. I may say that I noticed various degrees of educational progress on the Government side.

In the light of that, may I just say, in view of those arduous four days, that I am a little surprised to see the headline in The Times which says: E.E.C. Bill slips through the Lords. For those of us here, it was a very hard fought debate, and I should have thought that that heading was grossly inaccurate. There is the further inaccuracy in the statement that the Bill now just goes to Third Reading. Despite the size (and I mean this in no offensive way) of the Government's steamroller—which I should have thought also had some news value, but it happens not to have been noticed—with the greater flexibility we have in this House, as opposed to another place, we can insist on a Report stage, and that is what the House is doing. We shall therefore return in September, full of vigour and still determined to try to persuade the Government to accept one Amendment. However, I do not wish to spoil the pleasant atmosphere, and I would echo the noble Earl's good wishes to all Members of your Lordships' House for a very pleasant holiday.


My Lords, I should like to associate myself with everything that has been said and to add to the general stream of congratulations which we are all showering on ourselves as a result of our work during the last fortnight or three weeks. One of the things that has happened is that we are all now making great progress in our study of what is called "Euro law". Even the Law Officers of the Crown are making great progress in that direction, so that is hopeful for our prospective entry into the Common Market. I should also like to associate myself with the tributes that have been paid to the staff. I have even received this morning my copy of Hansard for July 31, so almost everything is now cleared up, and I think we may now all leave for our holidays with a clear conscience and a fairly light heart.


My Lords, in view of the charming valedictory addresses that we have had, may I ask the noble Earl whether the Business of this term is now over, and whether we shall not now be proceeding with the Local Government Bill during the rest of the day? If that is too optimistic a line to take, how far do the Government intend to take the Local Government Bill to-day?


My Lords, I am sorry to disappoint the noble Lord, Lord Leatherland, but I think I must leave it to my noble friend who is in charge of the Bill to inform your Lordships what the usual channels have worked out, or will be working out, about the progress which the House will be making in the next twelve hours or so.

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