HL Deb 06 May 1992 vol 537 cc28-30
Lord Wakeham

My Lords, I beg to move the second Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Again, I have the pleasant duty of paying tribute to a great servant of the House. The noble Baroness, Lady Serota, was appointed to the office of the Principal Deputy Chairman after a long and distinguished career in many branches of public life. The House is well accustomed to the sight of the noble Baroness on the Woolsack or in the Chair. But of course the main burden of the office is the task of acting as Chairman of the European Communities Committee.

Ever since its creation in 1974, the European Communities Committee has shown the way in investigating the nooks and crannies of Community legislation. No other Community assembly has put such effort into this work. A glance at some of the committee's reports under the noble Baroness' stewardship shows that none of the key issues facing the Community in recent years has escaped the scrutiny of the committee—from economic and monetary union to institutional change. In total, the committee has produced 108 reports under the noble Baroness' leadership. I know how high the reputation of the committee stands both in your Lordships' House and outside it.

The noble Baroness can take great credit for that. As the House is aware, it is the committee's six sub-committees which conduct the inquiries themselves. But it is the chairman who separates the key documents for examination by the sub-committees from the mound of Brussels paperwork. The noble Baroness has also been a source of constant encouragement to the sub-committees, and has worked tirelessly to ensure that a potentially cumbersome structure works as a single unit. Links with other parliaments have increased enormously under the guidance of the noble Baroness; even this past weekend, she gave up her bank holiday to represent the House at a conference abroad.

I hope that the noble Baroness will continue to contribute to your Lordships' debates, particularly of course those relating to the Community, and I am sure that the House will wish to join me in giving the noble Baroness our very best wishes for the future. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Lord Boston of Faversham be appointed Principal Deputy Chairman of Committees for this Session. —(Lord Wakeham.)

Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos

My Lords, as the noble Lord the Leader of the House said, my noble friend Lady Serota also deserves the very highest tribute for her work as Principal Deputy Chairman of Committees and Chairman of the European Communities Select Committee.

As we are all aware, that can be an extremely complicated office involving a great deal of hard work. I am personally aware of that, as I was, for a period, a chairman of one of the sub-committees of the main committee. My noble friend carried out her duties with undoubted distinction and her name stands high not only in this House and in the British Government but throughout the European Community. She will be missed from her office, especially by the Members of the Select Committee and the sub-committees. We are all most grateful to my noble friend for her outstanding contribution and we look forward to her presence here in the House and her contribution to debates in the years to come.

Lord Jenkins of Hillhead

My Lords, I need say no more than this: if the noble Baroness requires a monument, let her only look around her and look at the reputation of the European Communities Select Committee not only in this country but throughout the Community and, indeed, to some extent beyond it. She took over a committee with a great reputation six years ago and she has enhanced it still further during that period.

Baroness Serota

My Lords, it has been a very long day but I must take the opportunity to respond, albeit briefly, to the very kind and generous words of the noble Lord the Leader of the House, my noble friend Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos and the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead.

It has been a very great pleasure, first, to act as deputy to the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, whose courtesy, friendliness and efficiency is so well regarded in all parts of the House, as we have seen this afternoon. We shall all miss him very much and I know that all the Deputy Chairmen of Committees who have worked with him to man the Chair and the Woolsack will wish me to express their sincerest thanks to him way in which he has conducted the office and for the courtesy and consideration which he has always shown to all his colleagues.

As the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, said, we shall miss him sadly. The one compensation is that we shall know that he will have a few early nights in future. Of course, we congratulate his successor, the noble Lord, Lord Ampthill.

As the noble Lord the Leader of the House has just said, my main responsibility as Principal Deputy Chairman of Committees was to act as Chairman of the European Communities Select Committee. It has been a very great pleasure and, indeed, a privilege to work so closely with so many Peers and with the excellent, efficient and able team of staff in the Committee Office. Indeed, without that work, our work would be as nothing.

The passing of the Single European Act in 1986, which speeded up decision making in the Community, the 280 or so measures required for the completion of the single market by the end of this year, coupled with the major policy issues involved which have already been mentioned in the development of economic, military and political union which culminated in the Maastricht treaty have placed great burdens on both Peers and staff who have been involved in the scrutiny. Our systematic method has, I think, been followed, if not admired, by other national parliaments and it is good to know that all other national parliaments in the 12 member states now have European affairs committees and work together to develop the role of national parliaments in the future Community in association with the European Parliament.

I know that my successor will have the same co-operation that I always received, especially from the Chairmen of the sub-committees, who carry so much of the day-to-day burden of the work, and from the staff in the Committee Office. I wish him every success and I thank the House for the confidence it has shown in me during the past six years.

Moved accordingly, and, 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 eight minutes past five o'clock.