HL Deb 31 July 1998 vol 592 cc1810-2

3.41 p.m.

Lord Carter

My Lords, in rising to move that the House do now adjourn your Lordships will not need reminding that this has been a very long Session and there is still more to come. It is thus even more appropriate than usual that I should rise to my feet at this point to pay the usual tributes on the rising of the House for the summer Recess.

First, I should like to say some very sincere thanks to the usual channels for the cooperation that we have been able to achieve since the general election. I am particularly grateful to the Opposition Chief Whip, Lord Strathclyde, for being always available to conduct negotiations both on the spot and in the longer term. It is inevitable that sometimes we disagree, always amicably, but that in no way reflects any weakening of the crucial relationship between us on which so much of the operation of your Lordships' House depends.

I also pay tribute to the Chief Whip on the Liberal Democrat Benches, the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich. While the noble Lord and his colleagues may have had some different interpretations about government policy on different occasions throughout the year, there can be no doubt that our personal relationship has been warm and constructive.

There are so many other of your Lordships whom I wish to thank, not least the noble Lord, Lord Weatherill, for his support in his role as Convenor of the Cross-Benchers, and the noble Viscount, Lord Falkland, who stood in for his noble friend Lord Harris of Greenwich for part of the year.

I also place on record my warm and personal thanks to my noble friend Lord Richard, who provided a constant, welcome and supportive presence in his role as Leader of the House. I look forward to a similarly constructive relationship with his successor, the noble Baroness, Lady Jay.

I also pay a very sincere tribute to the staff of your Lordships' House for all that they have done over the past year. While the Session has been long and there have been some late nights, I am pleased that we have not had an all-night sitting—yet. In spite of that, I recognise that all of your Lordships' staff put in incredibly long hours and work under great pressure to achieve what can only be described as a Rolls-Royce service in the running of your Lordships' House. It would be invidious of me to single out any particular individuals or groups for particular thanks. There are so many staff who may never be visible to your Lordships upon whose reliability and hard work so much depends. I therefore pay a tribute to the entire staff of your Lordships' House for all they have done for us over the year. I wish everyone a very happy holiday and a well deserved summer break.

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, it is one of the more pleasant duties of the Opposition Chief Whip to join in this customary debate before we break for the summer Recess. On behalf of these Benches, I join the noble Lord the Government Chief Whip in giving our thanks and congratulations to all those who work behind the scenes and sometimes even in front of the scenes, who have made these past few months work well and be as pleasurable as possible. It is customary also to reflect upon the warmth of the summer. I am delighted to say that, given that the political atmosphere has sometimes been heated, climatically it has not. That has helped control much of the debate that has taken place in the Chamber.

On a personal note, I want to thank the noble Lord the Government Chief Whip for the way he has operated the usual channels. Coming in to a new government as a new Government Chief Whip he brought to bear all the natural skills he built up over many years in the commercial field to ensure that the House has operated in as fair a way as possible. He is right that on occasions we disagreed about that, but that has always been most amicable.

We now have a few weeks' break. I am pleased that we have not had to sit into August. We on these Benches look forward to returning refreshed. I can already hear the sound of the buckets and spades being unpacked. On behalf of these Benches, I wish noble Lords and all who work in the House a happy summer Recess.

The Viscount of Falkland

My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Harris of Greenwich, I follow the noble Lord the Government Chief Whip in his remarks, first, about the way in which the Business of the House has been conducted. We have much appreciated the courtesy and thoroughness with which noble Lords and noble Baronesses on the Government Front Bench have dealt with all matters. I agree with him that we concur with the Government in many areas of their policy, and will continue to do so, but where we do not agree we make that clearly known at an early stage. We shall stand by our opinions vigorously, as he has now come to recognise. Behind all that of course is the continuing goodwill. We look forward to a vigorous and challenging Session starting in November, but more of that anon.

I follow both noble Lords in congratulating all the staff, and thanking them for the continuing level of service that they give us. This is a formidable institution, and an enjoyable one in which to work. It is only made an enjoyable and fulfilling place in which to work hard by the support we receive from people who often go unrecognised.

I wish all noble Lords a happy summer. The previous Clerk of the Parliaments used to say to me, "What a pity we have the Parliament term wrong; we should rise at the end of May and enjoy the summer". I do not think that he would have said that to me this year. We may wish that we had been sitting through August, but let us hope that the weather will be kind to us and that noble Lords will be able to take out their buckets and spades. In my case it is my motor-cycle which my wife calls my menopausal machine, which I think is rude. I hope that we all come back refreshed. We look forward, as I say, to a challenging and fulfilling new Session.

Lord Shaugnessy

My Lords, on behalf of our Convenor, my noble friend, Lord Weatherill, and my noble colleagues on these Cross Benches, it is my privilege to endorse your Lordships' expressions of deep appreciation of the unfailing dedication of all those who support the work of this House in both its legislative and administrative activities.

I doubt whether any other legislative assembly anywhere enjoys more dedicated support than we enjoy in this House. And it is always proffered with sincerity and unfailing good humour. We on these Benches are happy to join in wishing everyone a pleasant and relaxing Recess after an arduous and lengthy Session that ends today. I hope that we shall all return in due course to take up the battle again.

House adjourned for the Summer Recess at ten minutes before four o'clock until Monday, 5th October next.