HL Deb 28 July 1993 vol 548 cc1367-70

7.2 p.m.

Lord Hesketh

My Lords, in moving the adjournment of the House it is my pleasant duty to thank, on behalf of all your Lordships, all those who have worked so hard to ensure the smooth passage of business in your Lordships' House. It is only perhaps in retrospect that we realise quite how much we owe to those who serve the House with such unobtrusive efficiency and invariable courtesy. This was never more true than during the busy summer months, when the demands placed on those who assist us are at their greatest and when our debt to them equally becomes apparent.

The recent months have, I think, been a time when your Lordships' House has been busier than for several years, and indeed also when the debates and decisions of the House have justifiably attracted a greater than usual level of public interest. I for one am sure that in the conduct of our debates, in which the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, has, I believe, won for himself a starring role, your Lordships have won the respect of many who previously might have been unfamiliar with your Lordships' proceedings.

Perhaps I may add also a particular word of thanks to the noble Lords, Lord Graham of Edmonton and Lord Tordoff, for their assistance to me, up to a certain political point, in our joint task of trying our very best to reflect the wishes of the House in the organisation of its business. Perhaps I may wish them and all of your Lordships a restful and enjoyable Recess in the hope that when your Lordships return in October it will be with the benefit of a greatly reinvigorated and restorative effect from the summer months that lie ahead.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

My Lords, there is no answer to that. The Government Chief Whip quite rightly a year or two ago established a certain practice. Rather than try to remember every single element of those who serve us he does it in a comprehensive way. Therefore that makes my task and that of others much easier. We simply have to say that we endorse every word that he has said.

I agree with the noble Lord; in my 10 years in the House this has, I believe, been the heaviest period that we have had. The Session started on 6th May, not, as normally perhaps, on 6th November, but we have covered a lot of work and on far too many nights the House has sat beyond midnight and sometimes until two, three and four o'clock in the morning. That is not the way for us to conduct our business. I know that the Government Chief Whip will share my aspiration that the committee which has been established under the chairmanship of the noble Lord the Leader of the House with the job of attempting to produce some solutions to present to us will do its job well.

The noble Lord referred to the way in which, up to a certain point, he has had the assistance of the usual channels. The Government have suffered their normal annual average of 10 to 12 defeats. We have not let them down. However, the Government Chief Whip will have great pleasure in recalling the enormous support that he received on one occasion when a record number of Peers appeared in the House and there was a record vote.

Without naming the individual concerned, I should like to point out that the usual channels are very well served by those who serve the usual channels behind the scenes. The manner in which the usual channels behind the usual channels were able to collaborate with what came to he known as the rebels on the Maastricht Bill not only served the Government but also the House. The Government Chief Whip and the Leader of the House are entitled to he even more grateful for the service they received from their servants then.

As we know, the Government Chief Whip is a colourful character, and today he has not let us down. He has performed in the pink, and we are all grateful that he is in good health and is going away for a richly deserved holiday. He mentioned the usual channels. They have worked very well during this period. It is a pleasure, a joy and a privilege to he associated with them. I say to the whole House, but especially to the Government Chief Whip and all his supporters and colleagues, that they have worked very hard and done very well, but when they come back in the autumn —watch it!

7.6 p.m.

Lord Tordoff

My Lords, from these Benches I join in wishing everybody a happy holiday. Perhaps by the time we come back, in addition to certain provisions concerning accommodation which are being discussed, the seating in the Chamber can be re-covered in a slightly different colour to obviate the clash which has taken place on the Government Front Bench today. I greatly prefer the sartorially elegant colour that the Chief Whip is wearing to the present rather dull red.

In pulling the noble Lord's leg I wish to thank him for all that he has done this year. It sounds rather like "I'll scratch your back, you scratch mine", but this has been a particularly difficult year and the Government Chief Whip has had an extremely difficult and unusual task. I am grateful for what he said about the noble Lord the Opposition Chief Whip and myself. However, the burden rested on him. The steps that he took to make sure that the Maastricht debate was carried on in a way which did not keep your Lordships working through the night, night after night, was admirable, and he deserves our thanks.

It is difficult to pick out members of staff without being invidious. However, on this occasion I should like to mention the refreshment staff and the work that they did on the nights of the debates on the Maastricht Bill. In particular, the effort which they made on the night of the debate on the referendum to produce meals for huge numbers of people at quite short notice was remarkable.

We shall go off to our buckets and spades. No doubt some of us will be going to the Hampshire seaside in the next day or two, to do more than build sandcastles. I wish your Lordships a very happy holiday. I hope that you will all return in good health to join us in further deliberations on the Railway Bill and other exciting matters which will arise in October.

I am grateful for all the support that I have had from my Benches during this very hard-working year and to my colleagues in the usual channels.

Baroness Hylton-Foster

My Lords, the Cross-Bench Peers are always delighted to support any appreciation of the wonderful service given to this House, as has already been mentioned by the Parties —perhaps I should say the usual channels. However, the Cross-Bench Peers, the unusual channels, would like to add a special thanks to all the unseen people who always look after us so well. We add our congratulations to the Refreshment Department for the way in which they looked after not only us but the 600 other Peers who were present during the European Communities (Amendment) Bill.

Lastly, we give a special thanks to the Doorkeepers. We are the largest group of Peers sitting on the Temporal Benches. Sometimes it becomes rather difficult to name some of the non-regular Peers. But do not worry, my Lords, the Doorkeepers miss nothing and always come to our aid.

We wish Peers and all who work in the House a very happy and relaxing Recess.

House adjourned for the Summer Recess at eleven minutes past seven o'clock, until Monday 11 th October next.

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