Backbench Business — Valedictory Debate

Part of Elections for Positions in the House – in the House of Commons am 4:21 pm ar 26 Mawrth 2015.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of William Hague William Hague First Secretary of State and Leader of the House of Commons 4:21, 26 Mawrth 2015

My challenge in seven minutes is to mention one thing about as many as possible of the right hon. and hon. Members who have spoken in this debate, and to thank my right hon. Friend Sir George Young for suggesting it. I also join him in thanking the staff of the House for the professionalism of our security staff and Doorkeepers, the long hours of the Clerks and the staff of the Library and the massive expertise that keeps this building running despite all our best efforts to make it so difficult.

I pay tribute to Mr Brown. I have disagreed with him about virtually everything in his career, but we should thank someone who has been Prime Minister of our country and served 32 years—a lifetime of public service in this place. My right hon. Friend Charles Hendry has been one of my cheeriest colleagues in my time in the House, and I can tell the House that when I was Leader of the Opposition, I needed cheery colleagues.

Dame Joan Ruddock spoke of the importance of being a woman MP when she was first elected. It is still important, and there should be more. One of the great prizes of the 21st century will be the full social, political and economic empowerment of women everywhere. My right hon. Friend Sir Malcolm Bruce spoke about the importance of the connection with the constituency, which is a good argument against proportional representation, on which many of us will reflect.

The most revealing comment from Mr Hain was that when he was first appointed a Minister, the call was from Alastair Campbell, not Tony Blair. That tells us something about that Government. My right hon. Friend Mr O’Brien is going on to an important role in the United Nations which, sadly, will only carry bigger burdens with it. The House wishes him well in that role.

I pay tribute to Mr Straw for his recent work in the House. I hope that after recent controversies his career will be seen in the full context of his achievements. My hon. Friend Mr Binley said that he had created two businesses and employed 300 people before he came to the House, and we need more people who create wealth and business here.

Mr Llwyd said that as a Welsh nationalist he came to Parliament in order to leave it, and I am pleased that he is not leaving with his country as I will live there for much of the time. My hon. Friend Mr Newmark has been a great advocate for his constituency, and I remember that when he was selected for Newcastle—which he also became a great friend and fan of—he was astonished, because he had gone to the selection meeting not really caring about the result and not pretending to have any link with the constituency or any familiarity with it, and the selection committee chose him because he was honest.

We should recognise the important role played by Dame Tessa Jowell in staging the best ever Olympic games in the history of the world. My right hon. Friend Sir John Stanley spoke about the decline of scrutiny in this House, but he has been a very good example in his own career, as Chairman of the Committee on Arms Export Controls, of the enhancement of scrutiny in this House.

Mr Raynsford spoke about ending the annual shuffle of Ministers, but actually this Prime Minister has made quite a lot of progress in that regard, something I have always urged on him. My right hon. Friend Mr Lansley spoke about the eastern powerhouse. He has been an intellectual powerhouse.

Mr Doran has made a great contribution to the House and its Commission. My right hon. Friend Sir John Randall almost morphed into the Mayor of London in his speech, which was quite a spectacle.

Mr Hamilton spoke about having only been to London three times when he was elected—more a culture shock to London than it was to him—and spoke about the compassionate side of the Whips Office. That is a new concept for the nation, but an important one that Members of this House are familiar with.

My right hon. Friend Sir Alan Beith spoke about not going back on the role of Select Committees. He is right. Dame Anne McGuire spoke about going from being a babe to a granny and about her work for disabled people. I regard my proudest legislative achievement as the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. My right hon. Friend Mr Willetts has been one of the most outstanding Ministers of science ever.

I cannot go through all the other remarks by the hon. Members for Stoke-on-Trent North (Joan Walley) and for Great Grimsby (Austin Mitchell), my hon. Friends the Members for Cannock Chase (Mr Burley) and for Hove (Mike Weatherley), Eric Joyce, my right hon. Friend Mr Heath and Andrew Miller, but they all spoke powerfully and well. It has been such a display of brilliance that it is hard to imagine how the House will do without us all, but I am sure it will.

I have found the people of north Yorkshire, with their enterprise, resourcefulness and good humour, to be the inhabitants of one of the most welcoming places on earth and one of the best places on earth to be. To be their MP for 26 years has been a privilege beyond measure.

I want to thank my colleagues around this House. I can say with conviction, as Leader of the House, that I believe the great majority of colleagues in all parties are sincere and hard working. The reputation of this House can be restored by a continued display of that.

When I saw the Youth Parliament sit in this Chamber in November last year, I could see how inspiring the future can be and how, as so many of us leave the House, we can be confident that there will be a new generation of extremely impressive young people who will come to this House. Meeting young people is generally the single most encouraging experience that most of us have as Members of Parliament. The Youth Parliament was a display of that a few months ago. It is something I will remember on leaving this House after such a long time in it.

I again pay tribute to all colleagues who have taken part, particularly my right hon. Friend the Member for North West Hampshire, to whom I must leave the last word in this debate.