HL Deb 17 December 1993 vol 550 cc1519-22
Viscount Ullswater

My Lords, in moving the adjournment of the House, I should like on behalf of noble Lords on these Benches to wish all noble Lords a happy Christmas, an enjoyable and refreshing Recess and a prosperous new year. At the same time, I should like to take the opportunity to thank, on behalf of the whole House, all those who serve us so well in this place and make possible all the work that we carry out. To those at the Table and elsewhere in the Parliament Office; to those in Black Rod's office; and particularly perhaps the Doorkeepers, whose celebration of the season began last night, I hope on an auspicious note; to the Custodians; the staff of Hansard; to the Refreshment Department; and to the security service and the police; to all of them I offer our best wishes for a happy Christmas and new year, and our continued thanks for the charm, courtesy and efficiency with which they each discharge their duties.

Lord Morris of Castle Morris

My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Graham, may I say that we on these Benches thoroughly endorse everything that the Chief Whip has just said.

It would be invidious of me to single out any group from those without whom your Lordships' House simply could not function, but I must confess that my curiosity has recently been aroused by my admiration for those who guard the gates of the Chamber and maintain order in its precincts. They seem to grow taller and larger by the hour. I was reminded of the words of the 17th century poet, John Donne, who referred to: the great eight foot high iron-bound serving man". I have ascertained this morning that they are not eight feet tall, that there is no height test for the job, and that, indeed, two of them are, like me, the average height of the mature male in the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, I would not advise any visitor to attempt to abseil from the Upper Circle. To them, and to all others who look after us so kindly and so carefully, may I say, in contravention of the rules of this House: "Nadolig llawen a blwyddyn newydd dda i chi gyd". A merry Christmas and a happy new year to you all.

The Viscount of Falkland

My Lords, it falls to me to perform the happy duty of following the two noble Lords and echoing everything that they have already said. Last year I took the opportunity of thanking the people who look after our security so well, and particularly those who let me in and out of the barrier each day on whatever form of transport I choose to take. I repeat my thanks this year because they have done it with even greater companionability than before. But I would like to include particularly in my thanks, because I have been in early quite a lot this year—this place is so clean and shining and while visitors notice it, we take it for granted—the armies of people, including a high proportion of women, who perform their cleaning duties with such humour and efficiency. They need to be remembered.

From our point of view it has been an interesting year. We are all enthusiasts and volunteers here. The year has had its high points and its low points. Unfortunately, this year we have, like other sides of the House, lost some distinguished and valued colleagues. That is the sad aspect of each year, the passing of familiar faces of friends and people who serve the House well.

To turn to the high points, the best example of humour in this House this morning was the absolutely exemplary timing of the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, who came in with his crutches decorated in festive manner with tinsel, completely straight-faced, with absolutely perfect timing. That in some way sums up this House—its good humour and its good taste, as well as its efficiency and its ability to carry out a job well. I should like to give my thanks to all who support us in our efforts to do that, and I wish them all a happy Christmas and, as the Scots say, "a guid new year".

Viscount Allenby of Megiddo

My Lords, on behalf of our Convenor and noble Lords who speak from these Benches, may I just briefly add a few words to what has already been said.

First, we wish Black Rod a full recovery to health and look forward to having him back with us in the New Year. In doing so, we are most grateful to the Yeoman Usher of the Black Rod for agreeing to stay on until the spring. As many noble Lords know, he will be working with the new Yeoman Usher, to whom we extend a very warm welcome, but in the hope that he will not be tempted to stamp his feet too hard or possibly to drill your Lordships. May I say a very sincere thank you from these Benches for all that he has done. His flight-path has been very complicated but with the utmost courtesy, his landings have been superb.

Noble Lords can hardly have failed to notice that the Victoria Tower has emerged from the jungle of scaffolding and sheeting. I have to tell your Lordships that that emergence is largely due to the newly appointed officer under the rather uninformative title of the House of Lords Administrative Officer. He now leads that department, formerly that of the Property Services Agency, to which we are most grateful for what it has done in the past. I am reliably advised that there is still two years' work ahead, and that noble Lords may have to put up with a certain amount of disruption and inconvenience before all the work is completed.

The noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, referred two days ago to the departure of two of our Doorkeepers who are leaving at this time. Together they had served for 56 years in the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines, in many different ships and the commandos. Both joined us here in the 1970s and became senior Doorkeepers in 1986. For their 38 years of service, from these Benches we offer them our most sincere thanks and wish both a very happy retirement in pastures new. Others have left or are leaving: the staff restaurant cashier and an assistant librarian. To them go our thanks and best wishes for the future. Perhaps I may also say a word of appreciation for the research work undertaken so willingly by the staff members of the Library. We much appreciate their help and the hard work that they do on our behalf.

Finally, from these Benches I should like to wish all noble Lords a happy Christmas and—dare I say it?—a prosperous New Year, with the sincere wish that the peace initiatives currently under way in the Middle East and Ireland bear fruit in 1994.