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Lord Strathclyde: My Lords, it is an immense privilege for me to have the honour to associate myself fully, on behalf of the Opposition Benches, with the tribute that the Leader of the House has paid to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, and to support the Motion that a message should be sent from your Lordships' House conveying our warmest congratulations to Her Majesty on the occasion of her forthcoming 100th birthday.
Quite rightly, the Motion speaks of the admiration and deep affection in which Her Majesty is held, not only in this House, but across the four parts of this Kingdom and throughout the Commonwealth. No one who had the privilege, as I did, of being present at both the Guildhall two weeks ago and in St Paul's Cathedral on Tuesday of this week, could doubt the immense respect and devotion this quite remarkable and truly gracious lady inspires.
The Motion before us speaks of some 64 years of service. It is indeed 64 years since Her Majesty and her late husband the King were thrust so unexpectedly to the head of the nation's affairs. But of course she had become a focus of affection even before that as Duchess of York. The measure of her service and her unswerving sense of duty runs back over 75 years.
Is it not extraordinary to think that when Her Majesty first sat alongside the Throne at the State Opening of Parliament, she did so as Empress of India? Stalin's purges raged in a now vanished Soviet Union and Stanley Baldwin stood at the Bar of the House as Prime Minister. It was truly another world. Her Majesty has lived through a maelstrom of change. Yet across all those years she herself has never changed. She has remained a pillar of stability, good humour, a joy to all those millions whose lives she has touched and graced with her sparkle and charm. She has known testing times, but she has never wavered. She shared without hesitation the grief and the danger of the poorest during the blitz. She devoted herself tirelessly and unstintingly to public duty--an unfashionable concept to some, but one that this House has always honoured and recognised above all else.
It is not for me to recite Her Majesty's achievements or her litany of service. They are written in the hearts of the British people and in the annals of countless charities, voluntary bodies and service organisations across the land. They and we give her the most heartfelt thanks. So it is with the very greatest pleasure that I support wholeheartedly the two Motions that stand before the House.
Many hundreds of men and women, from all walks of life, will reach 100 years of age this year. They will have served their communities and country well, often with distinction and from modest beginnings. And we remember them. But the Queen Mother has a special place in the life of the nation, particularly, as the Leader of the House said, in the difficult circumstance of the accession to the Throne of her husband, King George VI, as well as in wartime. It is wholly appropriate that we should mark her forthcoming birthday in this way, recognising the warm affection in which she is so widely held.
Lord Craig of Radley: My Lords, it is a great privilege for me to speak to this Motion. All Cross-Bench Peers would wish to be associated with the warmth and sincerity of the loyal message, and to add their heartfelt congratulations to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.
Ten years ago it was my duty as Chief of the Defence Staff, and a great privilege, to be standing on the royal dais at Her Majesty's side as she received the tributes on Horse Guards Parade to mark her 90th birthday. She enjoyed every minute of it for it was a grand occasion, devised by that master of grand occasions, Major Michael Parker.
As the many military and civilian groups paraded before Her Majesty, she kept asking me details about them. I could manage the military questions, but the range of Her Majesty's interests and patronage knows no bounds. I was soon not always able to help as we watched over 50 civilian groups go past to honour her. They ranged from members of the Poultry Club and the Dachshund Club, together with their animals, to the august Honourable Society of the Middle Temple and Fellows of the Royal Society.
Next week an even more wonderful tribute, devised once again by Major Parker, and numerous other events, have been arranged to celebrate the birthday of a very special and much loved lady. This afternoon, Cross-Bench Peers join all sides of your Lordships' House in expressing their profound admiration and affection for Her Majesty the Queen Mother. She has served her country and the Commonwealth quite simply majestically.
The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, from these Benches I convey the warm support of the Lords Spiritual for this Motion, to which, of course, I add my own heartfelt congratulations. I was privileged to take part in the thanksgiving service in St Paul's Cathedral on Tuesday when we celebrated all that Her Majesty The Queen Mother has meant, and continues to mean, to so many people around the world, in the Commonwealth and to us all in this House. It was an occasion of great joy which I am sure will be echoed in the days ahead.
Many tributes have already been paid here and elsewhere and many more will rightly follow as we approach the date of Her Majesty's hundredth birthday next month. The sheer number and variety of these tributes affirm her worth and how deeply the Queen Mother's marvellous example of service and duty has resonated with generations of admirers and well-wishers. We appreciate the way in which she has borne the burdens of public service with charm and dignity and admire her unfailing commitment and love of life. It is a love that has been returned with love.
I hope that noble Lords will permit me to touch, as they would expect, on one aspect of this rich pattern of service, her faith in almighty God. Her dedicated and wholly unpretentious devotion to the truths of the Christian gospel has been a rich source of strength. It has helped to sustain her both through the personal joys and sadness of a long life lived to the full. As I said
On Question, Motion agreed to nemine dissentiente and it was ordered that the Message be presented to Her Majesty The Queen Mother by the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lord Chancellor, the Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Jay of Paddington), the Lord Strathclyde, the Lord Boston of Faversham, the Lord Craig of Radley and the Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank.
Lord Brougham and Vaux: My Lords, I do not wish to detain the House for long. The noble Lord was kind enough to respond fully to my questions at Second Reading. However, there is one question that I still
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