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4.8 p.m.

Lord Carter: My Lords, as I rise to move the adjournment of the House, it is with great pleasure that I take the opportunity to mark the end of term with a few words of thanks, as is the usual tradition. I believe that noble Lords will agree that the period since the election has been a little more palatable than is our usual summer term. It has been punctuated by pithy Second Readings rather than late-night Committee stages. The only downside to that has meant that I have seen rather less than usual of my friends and colleagues, the noble Lords, Lord Henley and Lord Roper. This may have been an easier time for the usual channels than sometimes is the case. Nevertheless, I thank the noble Lords, Lord Henley and Lord Roper, and, indeed, the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig of Radley, for their patience and co-operation in organising the business of the House.

As ever, I pay particular tribute to the staff of the House. It is of course invidious to single out individuals and we should never do so. However, we did it last week, when we marked the retirement of one of our longest-serving members of staff--Mary Villiers of Hansard. I am sure that your Lordships will allow me to break the rule again today when I say that this will be the last sitting day for someone who is known to everyone in the House. I refer, of course, to the Whips Office Special Messenger, John Bannister. I am afraid that the rules of the House do not allow me to refer to anyone standing below the Bar of the House, so I will not. John Bannister served the House and another place for a total of 28 years. He worked in the Whips' Office under this Administration and the previous administration. Noble Lords in all parts of the House who had the benefit of John's assistance will

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join me in thanking him for his endless good humour and reliability and in wishing him a long, happy and energetic retirement.

Noble Lords: Hear, hear.

Lord Carter: My Lords, there are many other staff in the House who serve us well; some are seen and some are unseen. It would be 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 prepared notes say that the pace of life "is likely to" increase when we return in the autumn; I am sure that it will. I encourage all noble Lords to make good use of the Recess. They should rest, relax and regain their strength. We will all need it when we return to the fray on 15th October. In the meantime, I wish every noble Lord and every member of staff the very best of holidays and look forward to seeing everybody in the new term.

Lord Henley: My Lords, like the noble Lord, Lord Sainsbury, I shall endeavour to be brief. I start by thanking the noble Lord the Chief Whip for everything that he said and I echo his thoughts about what we owe to the staff for all that they do for us to keep the House running. Normally at this time of year we have to thank them in particular for their hard work in May, June and July and for putting in long nights. As a result of the election we have obviously had a slightly quieter time of late but clearly we shall have a much busier time in the months following our return on 15th October.

I say in passing how grateful I am to the Government for bringing us back when the conference season is over. That will allow us to go to Blackpool and other noble Lords to go to resorts of their own volition.

I also echo in particular the comments that the noble Lord, Lord Carter, made about the Whips Office Special Messenger, John Bannister. John served five Chief Whips in this House: Lord Hesketh and Lord Ullswater, my noble friends Lord Denham and Lord Strathclyde and the noble Lord, Lord Carter. I speak on behalf of both sides of the House in saying that he also gave a great deal of help to several Opposition Chief Whips. I refer to myself and my noble friend Lord Strathclyde and I am sure that my thanks will be echoed by the noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, and would have been echoed by the late Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede. All of us on the Opposition Benches echo absolutely everything that the noble Lord the Chief Whip said.

As the noble Lord, Lord Carter, said, we are going off for a good holiday. We on these Benches will return refreshed. I hope that we will not keep the House up unduly. I imagine that the Government will do so by introducing, as they always do, excessive amounts of legislation, some of which is unnecessary and which we do not wish to see. As always, we on this side will ensure that legislation receives appropriate scrutiny

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and I say in advance how grateful we will be to the staff, who will have to look after both sides of the House when that excessive load has to be scrutinised.

Lord Craig of Radley: My Lords, on behalf of all Cross-Benchers I associate us with the tributes that were paid to the staff, which were well deserved. We have been well looked after throughout this period. I follow the noble Lord, Lord Carter, in thanking Mr Bannister, who has in his time also given enormous help to Cross-Benchers. The Cross-Benchers have also benefited greatly from the work of Mr Colin Preece, who is retiring as accountant. I am sure that all noble Lords will join me in wishing him well. The Cross-Benchers, too, valued very highly the efforts of the Editor of Hansard, Mary Villiers, who looked after us all extremely well.

Eighteen new Cross-Bench Peers have joined us very rapidly. It is a tribute to the staff that they have been able to settle in so quickly--they received the

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enormous guidance and assistance that all new boys and girls need when they come to your Lordships' House. I wish everybody a happy Recess and look forward to returning to full throttle when we come back in October.

Baroness Harris of Richmond: My Lords, I hope that your Lordships will accept me in place of my noble friend Lord Roper. I join the Government in their good wishes to Mr Bannister and to thank him, from these Benches, for the enormous help and support that he has given to us.

Also, I wish the staff a very happy and relaxing holiday. I thank them for all the help and support they have given to those on these Benches. It is a great pleasure to be able to do that. From the Liberal Democrat Benches, we wish everyone a happy holiday.

        House adjourned for the Summer Recess at sixteen minutes past four o'clock until Monday 15th October next.

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