HL Deb 26 July 1990 vol 521 cc1770-2

7.47 p.m.

Lord Denham

My Lords, in moving, That the House do now adjourn, I should like to expand on what my noble friend has said, not only as regards this Bill but concerning the whole Session. On behalf of all my noble friends I wish noble Lords in all other parts of the House a very happy and restful Recess and the reviving of powers for when we return, which seems quite a long way away now.

I cannot help feeling a particular sadness at this time in saying these words because Lord Ponsonby would have been the next to speak after me. We have already expressed our sympathy to noble Lords opposite and that is sympathy in the real meaning of the word, which is "suffering with". Tom was such a friend of all of us in all parts of the House. We all feel very deeply about this.

I also wish to say a word of welcome to the noble Lord, Lord Graham. He has taken up the mantle. It is said in both Houses of Parliament that when you see two or more Chief Whips gathered together, murmuring in the corridors, then is the time for all honest men to hide. The truth of the matter is that, particularly in this House, the procedures do not work without well-flowing and well-oiled usual channels. The noble Lord, Lord Graham, has fitted in immensely well at very short notice. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, will join with me in saying that it has been an immense pleasure working with the noble Lord, Lord Graham, and it will continue to be so in the future.

On behalf of the whole House I also wish to thank all members of the staff in every part of the back regions of the House and those who work in the Chamber for the way in which they have looked after us so well. If we choose to sit into the long, late watches of the night, to a certain extent that is our own fault. It is a self-inflicted wound and we have ourselves to blame. But while we have to stay up, so do they. When we make them do it, they still look after us with efficiency, courtesy and never-failing forbearance. We must wish them a very, very happy and restful Recess. One of the factors that will go a long way towards making that happiness is that they will not have to be bothered with us for at least the next two months. I beg to move that the House do now adjourn.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

My Lords, I should be grateful if the House would allow me to respond on behalf of all my noble friends. We reciprocate the kind words that the noble Lord, Lord Denham, has said on behalf of his colleagues and the whole House to those who serve us so well.

It is appropriate that we say these words at the end of a very exhausting Committee stage of a Bill. My noble friend Lady Birk has said kind words about the support she has received from all parts of the House. She paid a particular tribute to the Minister, the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers. We on this side of the House have been amazed at the resilience that he has shown not just during the passage of this Bill but over a period when he has had to handle other Bills. He has been very busy indeed on the Front Bench. We respect enormously his courtesy and patience at all times.

It reminds us that the Front Benches of all three major parties in the House have had a gruelling time right from the beginning of the Session. The noble Lord, Lord Denham, gave us no hint that there would be any easement when we return. Nevertheless, I was personally deeply grateful for his kind words about our dear departed colleague, Tom Ponsonby. He was not only a lovely man but an excellent Chief Whip. He would have spoken in that context in this House. The fact that the noble Lords, Lord Denham and Lord Tordoff, have been so quick to make me a member of the Chief Whips' Club has not only pleased me but has been an enormous cause of satisfaction to my colleagues. They acknowledge that we get our business done only if there is maximum collaboration and the best use of what are called the usual channels.

We are as indebted as the noble Earl the Minister and the noble Lord, Lord Denham, to those who serve us. The noble Lord was quite right not to specify individuals. He spoke of the back reaches of the House. There are so many places. The frightening thing is that if one begins to list and mention specific groups, one always misses one or two. We are grateful to all those who serve us. They make sure that our comforts are seen to and respected.

We look forward to renewing the friendships which exist all round the House and across the Chamber. I say that especially to the noble Lord, Lord Denham. I find it enormously satisfying to be able to work with him, as I have done in the past, and with the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff. My colleagues will be deeply grateful for his kind words about my dear departed friend, Tom Ponsonby.

Lord Tordoff

My Lords, from these Benches I should like to echo everything that has been said except possibly the suggestion by the noble Lord the Chief Whip that the usual channels should be kept well oiled. That might be capable of misinterpretation. At this time we always pay tribute to the work done by various people in the backwoods. Perhaps I may add one small group of people. I refer to the researchers for the opposition parties and the people outside who assist the opposition parties in preparing their briefs for Committee stage. Admittedly, they often serve outside causes but they provide a useful service to the House through making the Opposition better informed.

I join in the moving words of the noble Lord, Lord Denham, about our dear friend, Tom. Although we feel his loss along with those who moved tributes in the House and were present at the memorial service recently, as Chief Whips we had a special relationship with Tom and therefore perhaps in one sense we feel his loss more deeply than other people. He leaves an enormous hole in our daily lives.

I certainly welcome the noble Lord, Lord Graham, to his new task. We have known each other now for a number of years. We have worked well together, we have plotted together and we have spoken together about matters concerning Business. Although we may have to seek the downfall of the Government, it is always done in a way which I hope is not offensive to anyone in the House. The House would not work if we together did not have a good relationship with the noble Lord the Government Chief Whip. We very much value that. It has been a long, hard and very tiring year. We have had some dramatic moments during that time. We have welcomed many new Members to the House, but we have also suffered some sad losses. We need to go away, refresh ourselves and hope that the sunshine does not cease as soon as your Lordships' House rises for the Recess, even if everyone on the Benches of the Lords Spiritual is praying for rain. I hope that they are not too successful too soon. I say that because we need to refresh ourselves and come back in October ready to renew many of the arguments in which we have engaged over the past few months. I am most grateful to the noble Lord the Government Chief Whip for moving this Motion in a way so acceptable to all Members of the House.

The Lord Bishop of Peterborough

My Lords, we do not have a Chief Whip on these Benches, although it might be better if we did. I am entirely new to your Lordships' House. I should like to take this opportunity to express enormous thanks for the courtesy and support which are always shown to us by Members of the House who are present much more frequently than we are. We should like to be here more often and, who knows, now that we have a new Father things may change. I think that I should warn noble Lords that we are liable to become more religious. Finally, I should like to join in the general thanks which have been expressed.

The Earl of Halsbury

My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lady Hylton-Foster and the 250 Cross-Benchers, I should like to associate myself with the thanks which have been expressed to all those who serve us so loyally and so well. We are the largest group in this House, second only to the Government. I should like especially to express our thanks to those who have served us so well during the past 48 hours in clearing out the Cross-Benchers' room so that the installation of the new ventilation duct which serves the kitchen can be started tomorrow with a view to having the job completed by 8th October when the House resumes. I do not think that I need say more than that, except to confirm my agreement with everything which has been said so far.

House adjourned for the Summer Recess at four minutes before eight o'clock until Monday, 8th October next.