HL Deb 22 December 1988 vol 502 cc1488-90

1.9 p.m.

Lord Denham

My Lords, in moving the Adjournment of the House ,on behalf of all my noble friends on these Benches I should like to wish noble Lords in all other parts of the House a happy and restful Christmas. I believe that I can claim on behalf of the whole House to wish the same to the staff in all departments and to thank them for the kindness they have shown.

Those whose faces we see regularly show constant cheerfulness under the dreadful pressure that we are inclined to inflict upon them. This makes life so much easier for us all. There are also those in other parts of the House whom we do not see so often. Their job is just as important. Their help, work and service is indispensable to the running of this House. We thank them too. Finally, I do not believe that we should let this moment go by without saying a word of appreciation to the Yeoman Usher of the Black Rod, Brigadier David Stileman, who over the years has given such marvellous service to this House, and who in a moment or two will be taking the Mace out of your Lordships' House for his last time. I believe that I speak for the whole House when I say to Brigadier and Mrs. Stileman, both of whom have been such friends and who have become such friends of us all, that we wish them a very happy and well-earned retirement.

Noble Lords

Hear, hear.

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede

My Lords, on this sombre day I wish to echo everything the noble Lord the Government Chief Whip said and join him in sending best wishes to fellow Members of the House for a happy Christmas break. I should like to join especially in his remarks about the staff in all parts of the House, particularly those in the Refreshment Department, who I understand will be working this evening as well as at lunchtime today. We should like to thank them for everything they have done.

As the noble Lord said, the Yeoman Usher of the Black Rod, Brigadier Stileman, will shortly carry out the Mace for the last time, an action superbly captured in a cartoon by Nuttall which was presented to him yesterday. All those who saw the cartoon will know how well it reflected that duty. We shall especially remember the friendship and help so willingly given by the Brigadier to all Peers during his 10 years of office. He displayed, to use one of his favourite expressions, a gutty approach to his duties. He was able to tackle and would willingly tackle any problem which others might hesitate to tackle.

The State Opening of Parliament was an annual challenge for him. The arrangements on the day required split-second timing. He had to ensure that the procession which he had to lead into this Chamber through the Royal Gallery did not clash with another procession being led by the Lord Chancellor in the opposite direction at almost the same time. These duties he carried out superbly with that split-second timing. He ensured that all the arrangements behind the scenes went smoothly. We all wish him and his wife Barbie a pleasant and happy retirement in their leafy Wimbledon home.

Lord Tordoff

My Lords, from these Benches I should like to join in wishing Members on all sides of the House a very happy Christmas and a better New Year than this one has been in many ways. As the House will remember, I was on my feet earlier today on a much more sombre note. It is perhaps wise to remember that this great Christian festival brings with it a feeling of hope. That message could well go out to those who are bereaved at the moment. It may not comfort them today but I hope that in the future it will do so. It is certainly a comfort to people to know that the birth of Christ offers hope to all who are bereaved.

I should like to join the words of thanks and good wishes to Brigadier Stileman. He has always been most helpful to members of all parties. He undertook the most difficult and the most simple tasks at any time and gave one the feeling that it was a privilege for him to have done so. He somehow anticipated every request in a way which always brought with it a cheerful response. We shall miss him but we hope that, as he goes to join the Wombles, he and his wife will have a very happy retirement.

I hope that next year is a happier year than this one. It will no doubt be as busy for the staff as well as for Members of the House. I join in thanking the Refreshment Department in particular because for them it has been a trying year. It started with upset stomachs in May from which some people, I understand, have not completely recovered. We thank the department for the hard work it has put in. To all the Clerks and Servants of the House who keep the business moving so smoothly throughout the year and to those who look after our security we owe an immense debt of gratitude. But above all, a very happy Christmas to us all.

Lord Kilmarnock

My Lords, from this Bench we should like to be associated with the remarks made by the noble Lord the Government Chief Whip and the other noble Lords who have spoken. We much appreciate the noble Lord's good wishes to his political opponents, which we warmly reciprocate for the period of the truce before us. We should like to be especially associated with the words of appreciation for our staff, without whom we could not function, and we thank them for their tremendous long-suffering patience with us. Finally, we should like to express our great appreciation for the work done by the Yeoman Usher of the Black Rod. He has been in post for 10 years and we shall certainly miss him sorely.

Baroness Hylton-Foster

My Lords, we on the Cross-Benches would like to join in the tributes to the Yeoman Usher of the Black Rod. We wish him and his wife a very happy and busy retirement. His unpretentious manner has made it easy for unpopular decisions to be accepted and as a result of that he has endeared himself to so many of us.

We should like to express our thanks and good wishes to our always cheerful and hard working staff. We hope that, despite the fact that there are only two and a half days left to Christmas, they will have an enjoyable day. We look forward to the new year.

House adjourned for the Christmas Recess at seventeen minutes past one o'clock until Monday, 16th January next.