HL Deb 11 March 1976 vol 368 cc1409-11

3.24 p.m.

The CHAIRMAN of COMMITTEES (The Earl of Listowel)

My Lords, with your Lordships' permission, I should like to make a personal Statement. I wish to inform the House that I intend to retire from the Office of Chairman of Committees in October of this year. I hope on another occasion to have an opportunity to thank the House and all who have assisted me in my work.

The LORD PRIVY SEAL (Lord Shepherd)

My Lords, the House has just heard from my noble friend Lord Listowel, the Chairman of Committees, of his intention to cease being Chairman of Committees in October of this year. My noble friend says that he wishes to have an opportunity to express his appreciation, but I am sure that it would be the wish of this House, on a more formal occasion, to express its appreciation of the very long and dedicated service which he has rendered to us not only as Chair man of Committees, but as an ordinary Member of the House, and in sitting on the Front Benches of each side of the House.

Some weeks ago my noble friend intimated to me his intention to make this Statement, and we both felt that it would be right that we should take such steps as would facilitate an easy transition from the outgoing Chairman to the new Chairman, bearing in mind that the next Session may see an extraordinary weight of private legislation, which is very much the responsibility of the Chairman of Committees.

Therefore, we thought it right to consider who I, as Leader of the House, should propose later in the year as Chairman of Committees for the next Session. In the period since this matter was intimated to me I have had an opportunity of consulting not only the Front Benchers, but also the representatives of the Cross-Benchers, and those noble Lords who, in one way or another, represent Members who sit behind the Front Benches. I personally have also consulted 30 other individual Peers. As a consequence of that consultation it would be my intention, when the time comes for the appointment of a new Chairman, to suggest to your Lordships' House that the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, would be suitable to us as Chairman of Committees. Knowing the affection which the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, has for this House, and the affection in which we ourselves hold him, I have no doubt at all that he would have our wholehearted support as Chairman of Committees.


My Lords, the House will be grateful for what the noble Lord the Leader of the House has said, and for the indications he has given as to what he intends to do in the autumn. But the House will feel sad about what the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, has told us, and we shall feel very regretful that in the autumn we shall become deprived of the distinguished services which he has rendered to your Lordships' House. Most, indeed I hope all, your Lordships will welcome the indication given by the noble Lord the Leader of the House that he intends to propose my noble friend Lord Aberdare as successor to the noble Earl, Lord Listowel. I must say that I view that with mixed feelings, because it will mean that we on this Bench will be deprived of the services of my noble friend. He tells me that very shortly he will feel obliged to dissociate himself from the controversial and partisan crowd with which he now sits, and will move over to the Bench on my left where I see two ex-Speakers, the ex-Head of the Foreign Office, and the Lord Chamberlain. No doubt my noble friend will feel that is better company than that which he now keeps.

There will be another occasion to pay tribute to the services which the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, has given to this House, and to give a welcome to my noble friend Lord Aberdare. In the meantime, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, for what he said.


My Lords, from these Benches we should like to endorse what the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, has said. It is indeed a sad occasion, when we hear from the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, that he is to give up after so many years of distinguished service. I, too, view the appointment of the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, with mixed feelings. I am delighted that he will be leaving the Conservative Benches and that he will be joining the more impartial atmosphere of the Cross-Benches. But in the meantime, if he wishes to continue as Deputy Leader of the Conservative Opposition of this House we shall certainly have no objection to that, and we will welcome him wholeheartedly as Chairman of Committees.


My Lords, it is unusual for a Member who sits on the Cross-Benches to speak for anybody but himself, but I am certain that on this occasion the Cross-Benchers will want to be associated with the tributes paid to the Lord Chairman, the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, and to extend a welcome to the new Lord Chairman.