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In the past few days I have gained the impression that the usual channels seem to have become rather unfashionable in some quarters. Indeed, at times during the week I had the feeling that I was attending someone's "happy hour" rather than the deliberations of a great Chamber of Parliament. This House has always prided itself on its self-regulation. We should all think extremely carefully about the responsibility that that entails.
As many of your Lordships will realise, it is only through the co-operation of the usual channels that we have managed to reach the end of our summer term without sitting into August. I should like to pay a real tribute to the noble Lords, Lord Henley and Lord Harris of Greenwich, for the constructive spirit with which they approach the task of agreeing the business of the House. It has been a pleasure to do business with them. Those thanks also apply to the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig of Radley, who, although not a part of the usual channels on matters of business management, has been extremely helpful when all four of us have discussed the administration of the House.
We have all worked hard to get the business through. There have been some late nights and some early mornings. I am grateful for the perseverance and good humour which has permeated most of our proceedings. As ever, I should like to pay particular tribute to the staff of the House. In particular, I should like to thank the staff of the Official Report, who are always here two or three hours after the rising of the House in order to ensure that the parliamentary record is available the next day. Indeed, on Tuesday morning they were here until 9 a.m. after we rose at twelve minutes past five. The staff of the Public Bill Office and of the Refreshment Department have also had a particularly heavy workload and they have risen to the challenge magnificently. I should also like to thank our excellent Doorkeepers who bear the brunt of our late nights. I shall not say that they never grumble, but they do retain their amiability and their helpfulness.
As we know, there are many other staff in the House who serve us well; some seen and some unseen. It is hopeless to try to list them all. But their work is always of the highest quality and we are fortunate to be served so well. My Lords, I wish all of them and all of you a very happy holiday and I look forward to returning to a calmer and a more relaxed House in the autumn. I beg to move.
Lord Burnham: My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Henley, I should like to associate myself with the words of the Captain of the Gentlemen-at-Arms. I do not know whether the noble Lord is trying to persuade me not to speak.
I shall repeat what I said before I was interrupted. On behalf of my noble friend Lord Henley, I wish to associate this side of the House with all that has been said by the Captain of the Gentlemen-at-Arms except to say that I have no confidence that, when we return in September, life will be quieter and more gentle.
I feel that I ought to make one point. Having been involved in a certain amount of to-ing and fro-ing at an early hour of this morning, my noble friends Lord Cranborne, Lord Lamont and I were sitting in a part of the building not unassociated with the Bishops when, to our amazement, the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, finished rather faster than we thought. We had intended to be here in order to support the Government Benches in passing the Second Reading of the Bill being discussed last night.
Above all, I wish to say how grateful we are to all members of the staff. I spoke to one of the Doorkeepers earlier this week. He left this House at five o'clock in the morning, went home to High Wycombe to let his dog out, and was back at nine o'clock for a function in Westminster Hall. I think that that was a slightly extreme case, but it gives an indication of the hard work and devotion to duty of all the staff in this House. We owe them a great deal.
As the noble Lord said, we owe thanks to the Doorkeepers, the restaurant staff and the Clerks. I hope that we shall all have a relaxed holiday before we return to work a good deal earlier than that idle lot in another place at the other end of the building who clearly do not have as much work to do as have Members of this House. I feel that we might start off with a bang and not with a whimper, but in the meantime, I wish all Members of the House and all members of the staff a very happy and restful holiday.
Lord Harris of Greenwich: My Lords, I too thank the Government Chief Whip for his gracious words, which I think were well deserved. All I wish to say in the course of my few remarks is that I would not have dreamt of mentioning the name of the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, had that not been done for me by the noble Lord, Lord Burnham.
I hope that, when we return, we are going to try to behave in a more civilised manner than has been the case over recent days. I do not think that episodes of the kind that took place last night do anything to enhance the reputation of this House. I hope that, once we recover from the natural exhaustion from which we are all suffering, we shall return and, as I have said, behave in a more civilised manner.
I should like to associate myself and my colleagues with the words of the Government Chief Whip. We owe an immense debt of gratitude to our staff, to the policemen, the Doorkeepers, all the members of the Refreshment Department and the Clerks. Without their devoted efforts, we would not be able properly to discharge our responsibilities. We are fortunate that we have been given an opportunity today to express our thanks.
Lord Craig of Radley: My Lords, perhaps I may begin by thanking the Government Chief Whip for his kind remarks. Perhaps I may also associate all Cross Bench Peers with the tributes which have been paid to the staff of the House and thank them for their excellent support.
I am grateful to all who have spoken because, as an intermediate member of the usual channels, it is not always for me to become involved in an arrangement of this kind. I am delighted that we have all taken the opportunity to express our thanks.
It is always invidious to mention any names, but perhaps I may crave the indulgence of noble Lords to mention Mr Skelton, the Principal Doorkeeper, whose award last month of an MBE in the birthday honours reflects greatly on his marvellous contribution to the service of this House. He might modestly claim that it reflects also the support that he receives from all members of his staff. Perhaps I may also remind noble
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