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Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, no, he does not wind up the debate.

Lord Bach: My Lords, I am sorry; when he closes the debate—

Lord Grocott: My Lords, no, he does not do that. You are the last to speak.

Lord Bach: My Lords, but he has to reply.
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Lord Grocott: My Lords, no he does not, it is an Unstarred Question.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, you can only give way to him.

Lord Bach: My Lords, in which case, I apologise.

Lord Morris of Manchester: My Lords, my noble friend referred more than once in his speech to the figure of £8.5 million being spent on research. Is he aware that the United States Government have already spent some 250 million dollars? That comparison concerns many Gulf War veterans and bereaved families. They want to know why we cannot take more into account the research findings across the Atlantic that have, frankly, been much better financed than ours.

Lord Bach: My Lords, I mentioned the £8.5 million once in my speech. I should say that that is the least we will be spending on research. I should imagine that we will probably spend more. Of course, I am afraid that in this field we do not compete with the Americans—as in so many other fields to do with the Armed Forces. But I think that the scientific research that we are considering and have ordered has been of the highest quality. I am a little surprised by the noble Lord's question, because it seems that the tenor of some of the speakers in this debate suggests that all of that research is quite unnecessary. They seem to be asking, "Why are we bothered with it at all? Why do we not just take account of whichever witnesses happen to want to give evidence to the inquiry?".

I repeat my question and shall certainly give way to any noble Lord who wants to answer it. Who funded this inquiry? I look forward to the reply.

Lord Clement-Jones: My Lords, perhaps the noble Lord can say what the problem is. I do not think that any of us understand why the noble Lord and his colleague in the Commons are so exercised by this issue. What is the potential conflict of interest? What is the malign interest that could possibly affect the outcome of the inquiry?

Lord Bach: My Lords, the noble Lord belongs to a political party that always says, at least, that it believes in openness in matters of this kind. I think that that is right. Why, on this occasion, is he so quick to rush to the defence when no information is given about funding?

Lord Clement-Jones: My Lords—

Lord Bach: My Lords, I shall not give way again. I have made my point and I have not had an answer to the question that I legitimately raised.

Lord Morris of Manchester: My Lords, my noble friend asked me a question and I shall be very brief in answering it because of the time. In paragraph 3 of his report and on other occasions, the noble and learned
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Lord, Lord Lloyd, made it very clear why he has not felt able to dishonour a pledge of privacy to people who wanted confidentiality. I understand that certainly none of them had any axe to grind. He has not varied his position at all. This is an independent inquiry, properly so called.

Lord Bach: My Lords, he certainly says that about the private trust. Later in paragraph 3, he also mentions that there are two other substantial donations,

He does not say that the makers of those donations do not want to be named.

In short, the Government do not agree with the conclusions and recommendations of the very distinguished noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd. However, I reassure the House that the Government are committed to addressing the complex and difficult issue of Gulf veterans' illnesses, to understanding why some veterans of the first Gulf conflict are now ill, and to providing them with appropriate support.

We have also made every effort to learn from the lessons of that conflict. Of course, we cannot guarantee that deployed forces will not suffer injury or ill health, but we are doing everything that we can to minimise the risk.


Lord Grocott: My Lords, in moving the adjournment of the House, which I now do, I shall take the opportunity, which has become customary, of offering thanks to numerous people who deserve them for serving us so well during the year 2004. In doing so, I shall be very respectful of the injunctions that I frequently give the House—that is, to be brief. I am acutely mindful that the greatest service we can give to all servants of the House is to do what they all want to do—that is, to go home as quickly as possible when this debate concludes.

In a way, my job has been made easier this year because, as the House will know, there has been an investigation and report into Members' attitudes towards the services provided by the House. Rarely can a report have given such a glowing vote of thanks to those who serve us so well. So it is not only the instinct of the three Chief Whips and the Convenor that we shall be hearing about this evening; it is the scientific assessment of the views of the House, which has been presented for us all to see. It is a glowing report of all the departments.

It would be silly of me to try to go through them all but all the departments are mentioned at various stages in the report: the Hansard writers—enough said; we all know how good a job they do in improving our speeches; the research department of the Library; and the ones that work behind the scenes—the Computer Office, the Accountant's Office and all other departments. If I miss one out, that does not mean that I ignore it. As is always the case on occasions such as
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this, one is forced to be invidious and to make one or two specific references. I do so randomly, which perhaps I am allowed to do in the hope that other speakers will refer to one or two that I have not mentioned.

I pay tribute today to one group of workers who, because of the nature of their job, are less frequently seen by noble Lords. They deserve a certain accolade. They look after the fabric of this building and keep it clean; they are here before most of us arrive in the morning. In my judgment, we are privileged to work in such a beautiful building and the people who keep the fabric secure and undertake all the attendant duties need to be congratulated and thanked.

I need to thank another, more obvious group. They were kind enough to invite me to their annual dinner last Thursday, so I thank them for that. They are the Doorkeepers of the House whose skills are legendary. A condition of my accepting the invitation to their dinner was that I referred to them today and I do so gladly. Among their many skills is what I can describe only as their phenomenal capacity for communication of which I can give the simplest illustration. I only have to whisper within earshot of any member of their fraternity the group of amendments on which we are likely to complete the day's play for that message to be transmitted right round the building at a speed which makes the speed of light seem lethargic. People in all parts of the building appear to know the information and act upon it in their various ways. On behalf of the House I give genuine thanks to the Doorkeepers.

I also want to mention the Refreshment Department. It has had a difficult year for all kinds of reasons. Many noble Lords know Rupert Ellwood, who is moving on. We thank him and all who work there.

On a significantly more serious matter, I refer to those responsible for the security of our House. I want to mention two names in that regard. One is Chief Superintendent Gregory Roylance, who is retiring this year as head of security after eight years' service to the House and after 30 years' experience with the police, which is a fine record of service. Our thanks certainly go to him and we send him our very best wishes for his retirement.

On a far more sombre and serious note, as many Members of the House will know, a popular and well liked security officer, Mark Peters, was tragically killed in a road accident earlier this month. Although many Members of the House individually will have signified their thoughts and sent their condolences, this is an opportunity for me, on behalf of absolutely everyone, to pass on our most sincere condolences to the wife of Mark Peters, Bernadette, and to the rest of his family.

The House as a whole has been awarded the Investors in People accolade, which brings a modest smile to those at the Clerks' Table. According to the accolade, it means that this is a good place to work and
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one where people are looked after and given opportunities to develop. So that has to be a good thing. That applies to everyone who works here. With becoming modesty on my part, a separate award was given to the Government Whips' Office, which also received an Investors in People award. That shows that the Whips' Office has a caring and compassionate side to its nature as well as the better known characteristics of Whips' activities. That shows that this is a popular and likeable place to work and we are enormously grateful to people in all departments who work for us.

Although regrettably only one noble Lord is here to listen to this, in the light of the job that I have to do day in and day out, it would be remiss of me not to give a particular thanks to the 29 per cent of the Members of this House who find it in their hearts day in and day out to vote for the Government. It defies all known laws of mathematics that the Government get their legislative programme through, but I am deeply grateful to those who help me to do that because it keeps me in employment—at least for another hazardous year. I give my gratitude and thanks to them.

Finally, I simply wish all staff, who I am sure are even keener than I am to get home at the end of this untimed contribution from me, the very best for this holiday period. And I wish all Members of this House a very happy new year, and one where the hallmark of all contributions will be brevity and succinctness.

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