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Adjournment of the House

6.15 p.m.

Lord Carter: My Lords, I have performed many duties since taking up the office of Government Chief Whip in May this year. Some of those duties have been onerous, some difficult and some downright surprising. Much of the work of the Chief Whip brings the holder of that office great pleasure and none of my duties is more pleasurable than to move the adjournment for the Christmas Recess and a very well-deserved break for your Lordships and all the staff.

Decisions on Recesses are, as I discovered on taking office, only a part of the multifarious work of the usual channels in the Lords. I am delighted to have this opportunity to say a very heartfelt thank you to my opposite numbers, the noble Lords, Lords Strathclyde and Lord Harris of Greenwich, and also to the noble Lord, Lord Weatherill, the Convenor, for what they have done to ensure that the usual channels have, since the election, continued to function in a most pleasant and efficient manner.

One of the great traditions of your Lordships' House is that we proceed by agreement. The usual channels are the oil of that process. They are there to ensure that the work of the House runs relatively smoothly. By custom the Government Chief Whip, in moving the adjournment for the Christmas Recess, thanks all the staff of the House for all the work that they do to ensure that everything runs well.

By custom, too, we do not single out individuals or departments for particular mention. All Members of your Lordships' House have dealings with many members of staff. It would be invidious to single out particular groups for special mention. However, I am sure that the whole House will agree that a well-deserved tribute should be paid to everyone who has ensured that the changeover of government in May has not in any way been reflected in disruption in the workings of your Lordships' House. I was immensely impressed by the smooth efficiency of that changeover and the very evident willingness of every member of staff to contribute to that smoothness and efficiency.

On this occasion I should like to break the custom and make reference to an individual member of staff, Ray Ware of Hansard. Ray joined the Lords in 1988 after 30 years in the Metropolitan Police. He was a policeman in the Palace of Westminster for 26 years and spent the last 18 of those years behind the Speaker's Chair. After two years in the Commons and the Clerks'

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Department he was appointed here. He came to us with outstanding references from his colleagues at the other end. According to the Commons Clerks, he had a reputation for being a fount of knowledge on the workings of the House and unfailingly knew exactly what was going to happen each day--unlike the Government Chief Whip!

Ray brought those talents and skills to bear on his work in this House. I am sure that the whole House will join with me in wishing him a long and happy retirement when he leaves the Lords today.

I hope that all Members of your Lordships' House and the staff enjoy a very well-deserved Christmas break and return to the House in the New Year ready for the remainder of this Session. I can say, as the Government Chief Whip and speaking in accord with all my predecessors, that the rest of the Session is bound to be both rigorous and demanding. I beg to move that the House do now adjourn.

Moved, That the House do now adjourn.-- (Lord Carter.)

Lord Strathclyde: My Lords, I take the opportunity of joining the Opposition to the words which have just been spoken by the noble Lord the Government Chief Whip. In doing so, I voice my personal appreciation of the way in which he has carried out his business with me as a member of the usual channels.

As everybody knows, it has been a most interesting year. I started at the beginning of this year on the other side of the Table and I finished it off on the Opposition side of the Table. I doubt very much whether positions will be reversed in 12 months' time, but I am hopeful that in due course the natural order of things will reassert itself.

In joining the noble Lord in wishing all those who work in your Lordships' House a very happy Christmas and a good New Year, I, too, would like to refer to two important things that have happened this year. The first is, of course, the change in government and the seamless transition that took place with so much work being done by so many people above what was normally required. Secondly, there has been the very substantial influx of new Members of your Lordships' House. That has not only taken up a great deal of time in the Chamber itself, but it has also taken up the time of the Refreshment Department, which has to cater for lunches and so forth.

It would have been wrong not to have referred to those who have worked extremely hard during the course not only of the past few months since 1st May, but also for the past 12 months, in making sure that the Members of your Lordships' House are cared for as efficiently and effectively as possible. We owe all those who work in this House an enormous debt of gratitude. This is a most appropriate time to be able to thank them for all their work and to wish them a very happy Christmas indeed.

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6.20 p.m.

The Viscount of Falkland: My Lords, it is my happy duty once again on behalf of my noble friend Lord Harris of Greenwich--I have now done this for six years--to echo the sentiments expressed by the two noble Lords who have just spoken. I, too, would like to break with tradition--I have broken with tradition now for six years running--and I know that it is invidious to single out one group of staff or an individual, but I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, that this has been an unusual year and I should like, while recognising the unfailing courtesy and efficiency of all members of staff, this year particularly to thank Mr. Cowell--mainly because he has been responsible for putting up a sign to reserve a motorcycle space for me on several occasions! Whenever we have wanted a doorhandle replaced, a light resited or a bookcase carried, Mr. Cowell and his team have unfailingly been present to help as soon as possible. This year, with all the changes in offices resulting from the change of government, he has done an amazing job. That is why I should like to single him out this year.

Having said that, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Harris of Greenwich and all my colleagues on these Benches, I join the noble Lords, Lord Carter and Lord Strathclyde, in wishing everybody--all Members of this House and all members of staff--a very happy Christmas and a very good New Year.

6.21 p.m.

Lord Thurlow: My Lords, on behalf of our Convener and all Members of the Cross-Benches, I should like warmly to endorse the eloquent tributes and expressions of appreciation that have been paid by the Whips. In his maiden speech earlier, the noble Lord, Lord Puttnam, made a moving reference to the friendliness that he has encountered since arriving here--a refrain that I have heard before from new entrants to our House. On this occasion, that underlines the importance of the contribution that the friendliness of all those who support us makes to the unique character of this House.

There are 23 pages in the telephone directory of the House devoted to the different departments over which Black Rod and others preside. As has been said, it would be entirely invidious to do more than make a personal reference to one or two, but I should like to thank our Doorkeepers, who at this season have braved the icy blasts of the last few days, always cheerful, always helpful and always good natured.

We are sorry to lose Mr. Ware after his long period here--an innings of 37 years. We are also sorry to lose Mr. Hunter, who joined the staff of this House at about the same time as I did--about 20 years ago. We extend to both of them all good wishes for their retirement.

To all my colleagues in this House and on the staff, on behalf of these Benches I extend all good wishes for a very happy Christmas and a New Year which, despite the forebodings for next Summer, I hope will be a very good one.

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6.23 p.m.

The Lord Bishop of Chichester: My Lords, I had not expected to be here at this time, but it gives me the privilege and opportunity of associating the Bishops with all that has been said in the past few minutes. We are necessarily rather more intermittent in our attendance than most of your Lordships. But for that very reason we appreciate all the more the courtesy and unfailing help of all members of staff. I join fully in the tributes that have been expressed. I have no direct experience of the operation of the usual channels but as an observer the arrangement seems to work very well

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and happily. In the absence of my colleagues, I join in wishing all noble Lords a happy Christmas Recess and a happy new year.

The Deputy Speaker (Lord Brougham and Vaux): My Lords, in moving that the House do now adjourn perhaps I may also break a tradition. On behalf of the Chairman and all his Deputies, I wish all Members of the House and members of staff a very happy Christmas.

        House adjourned for the Christmas Recess at twenty-five minutes past six o'clock until Monday, 12th January next.

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