HL Deb 19 December 1991 vol 533 cc1553-6

4.47 p.m.

Lord Hesketh

My Lords, in moving to adjourn the House, it might be appropriate to reflect for a few brief seconds on the busy weeks that have preceded this happy moment and also to prepare ourselves for the bracing events that lie ahead of us after the festive season of Christmas. It is also my happy task to thank all those who make debate and happy government possible in this great Chamber. I thank those of all political parties, the Parliament Office, those on Black Rod's staff and in the restaurant department. We should not forget those who provide essential services to your Lordships' House, whether they are from the Parliamentary Works Office, the Crown Suppliers, Her Majesty's Stationery Office and last, but by no means least, the police.

It is my happy duty, in moving to adjourn the House, to be able to wish all noble Lords a very happy Christmas with the hope that the lights that are on our temporary clock represent something that will look even prettier in those colours on a sleigh over the festive days that lie ahead. With those words I beg to adjourn the House.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

My Lords, before the House deals with that matter, perhaps I may say that as regards the lights we shall take them as red! I was heartened by the Government Chief Whip telling us that we are looking forward to what I thought he said were "racing" weeks ahead but my colleague tells me that the word was "bracing". We on this side of the House note with particular pleasure that one of the arts which the Chief Whip has inherited from his predecessor is to say for all of us kind words about those who serve in this House. We are very grateful and we endorse everything that has been said.

I think we ought to say a little more about how grateful we on these Benches are to all Members of the House, who have had an horrendous period. One thinks in terms of the fact that for four nights last week the House did not rise before midnight—it was 1 a.m. on Monday and midnight on Tuesday. Your Lordships' House sat later than the other place on most of those nights. Bearing in mind that this House in general is an elderly House, I think we should be very grateful indeed. All parties appreciate the support of the Back-Benchers as well as those who serve on the Front Benches. I know the whole House will endorse that.

In the absence of the noble Viscount, Lord Davidson, I should like to say a special word. We all understand the situation. As the Opposition Chief Whip I should like to say to his Chief Whip and the Leader of the House how grateful we have been for the manner in which he has sought to discharge his duties. I may use a clumsy phrase, but he is always a gentleman. He has always been kind and courteous and he has never broken his word. He has always been willing to negotiate to the best of his ability in the interests of this House. We are very grateful indeed to him. We are sorry not to see him in his place. We understand and the House certainly endorses what the Chief Whip has said. We wish him, his colleagues and the Leader of the House a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

Lord Tordoff

My Lords, it is always difficult speaking third on these occasions because everybody has already mentioned everybody who needs to be mentioned. However, I certainly endorse everything that has been said in relation both to Members of your Lordships' House and to members of the staff.

This is a year which has brought many changes in the political life of this country, although I observed in the distance the right honourable Member for Henley and nothing had changed in the other place—he is still not the Prime Minister. One major change that is about to come upon us is that Black Rod will be taking his leave of your Lordships' House and will be succeeded by a sailor. We have already said in our various ways, but I think it is worth saying again, that we are all greatly indebted to Sir John Gingell for the enormous amount of work that he has done on behalf of all Members in all parts of the House and on behalf of the staff. That is the major change that will take place during this Recess.

I am very conscious that time is pressing. I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Mayhew for agreeing not to press his Unstarred Question this evening. I understand it will be on the Order Paper on the first day of business after the Recess. One of the major considerations in these matters is that the Doorkeepers have an assignation as soon as we can clear the Chamber. That is much more important than any matters of state. Having said all that, I wish everybody a very happy Christmas and a very successful, prosperous and above all, peaceful New Year.

Baroness Hylton-Foster

My Lords, the Cross-Bench Peers would like to be associated with all the good wishes that have already been expressed. Although our Benches are a little bare, I can assure your Lordships that the spirit of goodwill is very much there. We too would like to congratulate the staff on the way they dealt with the complex arrangements of the Refreshment Department during the spill-over. We thank them for the calm way in which they dealt with all the difficult situations that arose at that time. We wish everyone a relaxing holiday and hope it will be free from unexpected troubles.

Moved accordingly and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House adjourned for the Christmas Recess at seven minutes before five o'clock until Thursday, 9th January next.