HL Deb 03 November 1982 vol 436 cc14-8
Baroness Young

My Lords, I beg to move that the Baroness Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe be appointed Principal Deputy Chairman of Committees for this Session.

My Lords, although this Motion is traditionally a formal one, I think it would be right for me to pay my tribute to the noble Baroness, Lady White, who, as the House will realise, is standing down as Principal Deputy Chairman and chairman of your Lordships' European Communities Committee. The noble Baroness was in right at the beginning of the scrutiny of EEC proposals in your Lordships' House. Indeed, under her first chairmanship Sub-Committee G assumed its very high reputation in the field of environmental affairs. She has been chairman of the Select Committee for some three years and during that time the committee has maintained its very high reputation not only in this country but also in Brussels and Strasbourg. I am sure the whole House would wish to thank her for all the extremely hard work she has done for the House in this capacity. It is typical of her that she will continue to chair an important subcommittee in the months to come, and I know that she will continue to play an important part in the various EEC debates on the Floor of the House.

I should also like to say a word about the noble Baroness, Lady Llewelyn-Davies, who will take over the responsibility of Principal Deputy Chairman of Committees and chairman of the EEC Committee. The Opposition Front Bench will seem strange without her. For at least a short time the usual channels may seem rather unusual.

I should like to pay a special tribute to all the work that she has done, not only for the Opposition Benches but for the House as a whole. Speaking as the first woman to be Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House, I can appreciate as well as anyone what it must have been like to be the first woman Chief Whip and Captain of the Gentlemen at Arms. She performed those duties extremely well, sometimes almost too well for those of us on the Government side of the House. We congratulate her on her new appointment and I know that all of us on the Government Front Bench, but more than anyone my noble friend the Chief Whip, will be glad that, although we may be losing her in one capacity, we are gaining her in another. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Baroness Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe be appointed Principal Deputy Chairman of Committees for this Session.—(Baroness Young.)

Lord Peart

I am most grateful for the remarks made by the noble Baroness the Leader of the House about my two noble friends Lady White and Lady Llewelyn-Davies.

Speaking from the Labour Benches, I can only endorse everything that she said. My noble friend Lady White has been a very hardworking and successful chairman of your Lordships' Committee on the European Communities. I am sure that the whole House will want to wish her well. For my part I very much hope that she will continue to play a very active part in the affairs of the House from these Benches. As the Leader of the House said, Lady White has ensured that the reputation of our European Committee remains as high as ever.

So far as my noble friend the Opposition Chief Whip is concerned, this will be a strange Bench without her. She has spoken for the Labour Benches for 13 consecutive years. It is impossible to estimate the tremendous amount of work that she has done for her party and for the House. I thank her warmly on behalf of all of us, but more particularly on behalf of all the Peers on this Bench.

Lord Byers

My Lords, the House has been fortunate with those who have been appointed to serve as its Deputy Chairman of Committees over the years. I, too, endorse everything that has been said about the contribution made by the noble Baroness, Lady White, to the smooth running of this office and its many sub-committees. We are sincerely grateful to her.

The appointment of the noble Baroness, Lady Llewelyn-Davies, to this post of Deputy Chairman is an interesting one. We have worked together for nearly 10 years within the usual channels of this House and I have come to look upon her as one of the more decorative and attractive of its fixtures. We have worked happily together over that period, whether she was in Government or Opposition—well, most of the time, roughly. There have been moments in the past when, of course, Chief Whip to Chief Whip or ex-Chief Whip to Chief Whip requires quite a bit of negotiating scope, but the noble Baroness does take to organisation as to the manner born. I fear for the future of Labours Peers because it will be very difficult for them to find her equal.

The Earl of Halsbury

My Lords, I am sure it is the wish of all my noble friends on these Cross-Benches that I echo on their behalf the sentiments expressed by the parties. It is one of those rare occasions on which one Cross-Bencher dares to speak for all the others. They share the friendly farewell—let us hope it is only au revoir—extended to the noble Baroness, Lady White, and the equally friendly welcome to the noble Baroness, Lady Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, in the discharge of the important tasks that now lie to her hand.

The Lord Bishop of Norwich

My Lords, we too on these Benches should like to be associated with the tributes to the noble Baroness, Lady White. We watched her professionally because we on these Benches are, of course—and I speak for my brothers and myself—professional shepherds. We have noticed her shepherdly way, being patient, firm and stouthearted but occasionally showing just that glint of firmness which my brothers and I have to show at times when we have slightly recalcitrant sheep to care for. As we watched her we gained much on how to do our shepherding work, by seeing the way in which she did hers, both when she was on this, the spiritual side of the House, and on the Opposition Benches.

Baroness Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe

My Lords—

Lord Diamond

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for giving way to enable me to join with the others in expressing to her my congratulations on the difficult task she is taking on, which I remember very well from the time I had the same responsibility. As one who has had the experience of being in her flock, I thank her for the understanding way in which she has wielded the Whip. At the same time I thank the noble Baroness, Lady White, who has done an enormously useful and hard-working job. She has sustained the high reputation, which helps the reputation of the House as a whole, of the European Committees in their work, and in the reports that they produce.

Earl St. Aldwyn

My Lords, I had the privilege of being Conservative Chief Whip when the noble Baroness, Lady Llewelyn-Davies, took over as Labour Chief Whip. I think she will agree that we worked with considerable harmony. She was a tough opponent, but always a fair one. She tremendously enhanced the reputation of the Whips' Office when she was the Government Chief Whip.

This is a milestone in the history of the House. We have had many and we shall have more in the future. But there is one thing which I know I can say with absolute truth; that there will be many tears shed in the honourable corps of Gentlemen at Arms. They adored their Captain, when she was their Captain. I know that secretly many of them hope that there will be an opportunity for her to return as Captain. That, I am afraid, now that she has ceased to be political and become a servant of the House as a whole, is no longer possible. They will be sad indeed that she has departed for good, although I suspect she will be asked to dine with them on occasions.

Baroness Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe

My Lords, I promise not to make a long speech. I have been begging so many Peers, for so long, not to make long speeches that I cannot do so myself.

I should like to add a warm tribute to everything that has been said about my noble friend Lady White. She has served the House, and the country, with real distinction. I specially wish to thank the noble Baroness the Leader of the House for the more than generous things that she said about me. We have grown used to her generosity of mind and her fairness as our Leader. That has been specially important for the spirit of the way in which the House does its work. That spirit has made an impact, from our debates and discussions in the House, on public opinion and public events and, dare I say it, an impact even on another place. So we are very grateful for everything that she has done.

As to the noble Earl, Lord St. Aldwyn, as always he takes me by surprise. I am deeply grateful for everything he said. I love him very much. It was he who really taught me first the subtleties of being a Chief Whip, and I shall be eternally grateful to him.

I have loved being Labour Chief Whip both in Government and in Opposition, and of course I have been kept permanently up to scratch by my implacable opponent, the noble Lord, Lord Denham. There have been—usually late at night—times of disastrous collision when I have expected him to disappear behind a huge explosion of snuff, but it never actually happened. His formidable power has always been cloaked by a deep and genuine personal kindness. I shall always be grateful to him for the way in which we have worked together.

The right reverend Prelate, also unexpectedly, said very sweet and kind things about me, and I am most grateful to him. I liked being on the spiritual side of the House, but I shall never be there again. Most of all I am grateful to my noble friends on the Benches behind me for their loyalty, friendship and support in good times and in bad times, and especially for what my noble Leader said about me.

Your Lordships' House is a marvellous, wonderful place in which to work. It is quite unique. I have enjoyed my first 15 years here and I look forward tremendously to years of useful work to come.

On Question, Motion agreed to nemine dissentiente.

Stoppages in the Streets—Ordered, That the Commissioner of the Police of the Metropolis do take care that during the Session of Parliament the passages through the streets leading to this House be kept free and open; and that no obstruction be permitted to hinder the passage of the Lords to and from this House; and that no disorder be allowed in Westminster Hall, or in the passages leading to this House, during sitting of Parliament; and that there be no annoyance therein or thereabouts; and that the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod attending this House do communicate this order to the Commissioner aforesaid.

Appeal Committees—Two Appeal Committees were appointed pursuant to Standing Order.

Appellate Committees—Two Appellate Committees were appointed pursuant to Standing Order.

House adjourned at nineteen minutes before five o'clock.