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Lord Henley: My Lords, as always, it is a joy to follow the noble Lord, the Government Chief Whip, on this particular occasion. Perhaps I may start by thanking him for his remarks about my noble friend Lord Strathclyde, who, I am sure, if he were not already away on his bucket-and-spade holiday, would be the first to want to respond to them. I should also like to respond on behalf of my noble friend Lord Strathclyde to what the noble Lord said about Simon Burton and all the work that he did for my noble friend in government and for the noble Lord in opposition. I must also say, as Opposition Chief Whip, how helpful I found him when I had to arrange business. I am sure that he will find life slightly more relaxed after his three years in that particular office.
After what I gather the press is referring to as "the night of the short knives", perhaps I may congratulate all those who have been promoted or who have been moved on in the Government. In particular, perhaps I may pass on my congratulations to the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, who is present in the Chamber, and to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Williams, whom I used to shadow in opposition, on his promotion to Attorney-General; indeed, the first Attorney-General in this House for 400 years. I suspect that we might have very many more Attorney-Generals in this House over the years. I think that that would be no bad thing.
I should also like to pass on my valedictions to the four members of the Government Front Bench who have moved on, all of whom served this House and the Government very well indeed. I refer to the noble Lords, Lord Simon of Highbury, Lord Donoughue, Lord Gilbert and Lord Sewel. We shall greatly miss them, although I hope we shall continue to see them a great deal in the House.
As I said, it is always a great joy to follow the noble Lord, the Captain of the Gentlemen-at-Arms, and that is even more so today on this happy occasion when we pay tribute to all of those, both seen and unseen, who serve this House and who do so much to make it work properly, especially so during these last few weeks when we have been regularly sitting very late; indeed, frequently sitting longer than another place and frequently sitting beyond midnight. We owe a great deal to all those who do that work here. On behalf of the Opposition--and, I hope, on behalf of the whole House--I should like to wish them a particularly good and, I hope, long holiday and break.
Yet again we have avoided sitting into the month of August. I have now been here for 21 or 22 years. I think that there has been the threat every year that we would sit into August; and every year we just seem to manage to avoid it. It has been what we might describe as a "hot July", both inside and outside the Chamber. Perhaps I may pay tribute to the noble Lord the Government Chief Whip for ensuring--with, I dare say, assurance from the usual channels--that, on this occasion, we have not had to sit beyond the end of July. In fact, we still have one day to go. I am glad that the House is rising for the Summer Recess today. With luck, we shall not be returning until 11th October. I sincerely hope that there will be no crisis that calls us back before then and that, as the Government Chief Whip said, we can all return "refreshed" for what I can assure him will be a very interesting spill-over.
Viscount Falkland: My Lords, I echo the words of both the noble Lord, the Government Chief Whip, and the noble Lord, the Opposition Chief Whip, about what a heavy Session this has been. For those of us hereditary Peers who are likely to stand for election under the new arrangements, there is obviously a certain amount of uncertainty. But for those who already know their position, there must be an element of sadness in leaving a place to which it has always been a privilege and a pleasure, for me anyway over 15 years, to belong. Certainly, as regards any gathering of which I have been a member, this House represents most of what is good
Therefore, I go into the Summer Recess--and I hope that other people feel the same, whether hereditary or life Peers--with a feeling of optimism and gratitude to those in this House who have made it such a pleasure to work here, all the way down from the Clerks to the Doorkeepers, those who clean our offices, policemen, security men. Indeed, I must make a special mention of those who work for the Refreshment Department, who have been under particularly heavy pressure recently; otherwise, I would have found it easier to have got a table. All these people have served us so well and with such diligence and courtesy. I wish them and all Members of this House, both hereditary and life Peers, a happy break. I think that they have deserved it.
Unfortunately, my plans have changed somewhat as one of my motorcycles decided to catch fire, quite on its own, just the other night. I shall probably have to travel by car. So perhaps I may wish other noble Lords who are travelling this summer a happy holiday. I hope that their traffic jams will be short.
The Earl of Halsbury: My Lords, in rising to speak from the Cross Benches, I cannot forget the first day on which I sat on them. It was VE Day 1945, and I have sat on them ever since. I have attended the closing debate before the Summer Session every time since
On behalf of my noble friend Lord Weatherill, the Convenor of the Cross Benches, I thank the Government Chief Whip for all the friendly services he gives to the Cross-Benchers who belong to no party at all: neither friend nor foe but, on occasion, one or the other. Then we have all the decorative and ritualistic side of the House, in terms of a chain of command which stretches down from Black Rod to the uniformed attendants who serve us in the Chamber.
We should not forget the Librarians, those working in the restaurants and, lastly, those whom we never see. I have in mind the cleaners, the washers-up, those who repair the building and those who repair the fuses when the electric lights go. We see nothing of them, but we are aware of the consequences of what they do for us. To those people in particular I think we should all like to express our thanks. On that note, I may well be bidding your Lordships farewell for good, or not; I do not know. However, I wish you all a happy holiday.
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