Business of the House - Motion on Standing Orders

– in the House of Lords am 12:04 pm ar 23 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

The Lord Privy Seal:

Moved by The Lord Privy Seal

That Standing Order 47 (Amendments on Third Reading) be dispensed with in relation to the Victims and Prisoners Bill.

Photo of Lord True Lord True Leader of the House of Lords and Lord Privy Seal

My Lords, I had intended to perhaps say a couple of words, but after a whole Parliament your Lordships have probably got fed up with me standing up and saying things. This is perhaps the last time that I stand at this Dispatch Box and address your Lordships—in this Parliament. Since it is the end of the Parliament, it would only be fair that I speak, as I may not have another opportunity to do so—in this Parliament, as I said.

It has been a strange Parliament. It did not start in the way many expected. We had one surprising general election result starting this Parliament, so who knows? It did not proceed as anyone expected. We must all acknowledge that it has been an extraordinary Parliament, and your Lordships have retained their customary calm with all the waves and noise going on the other end, which never seem to end. I confess that it has not ended in the way or at the time that most of us expected, but here we are, approaching the end of the Parliament. Tomorrow, we will do the great proceeding of Prorogation, which will take place in this Chamber. How that proceeding is viewed is a matter for personal reflection.

It has been a great and humbling honour for me to have the opportunity to lead your Lordships’ House, which I love with a deep passion. Maybe on another occasion I can express fully the personal feelings I have on this matter, but now I thank your Lordships for the trust and kindness that they have displayed. It is appreciated tremendously.

This is also the occasion to briefly give thanks to so many others. Having started in this House well below the salt, crawling around the floor of the Opposition Whips’ Office, stapling the Whip in the days before email, and ending up standing in this place where Winston Churchill stood during the darkest days of the war, I think I have a sense of the whole greatness of this House. Its greatness rests on everyone who serves it, from those who come in on the dark winter mornings to clean it, those who stand here patiently as we pass by and protect us and care for us, right up to the majestic dignity of our Clerks—with or without their wigs—who sit at the top of our ceremonial tree, and of course the people who cook our grub as well. This is an extraordinary community, which it is a privilege to serve and be part of.

The noble Baroness opposite was very kind in what she said about my noble friend Lord Ahmad and other members of my team. I feel very privileged to have led a team of Ministers and Whips who—whatever noble Lords might have thought of some of the words that have come out of their mouths—I know have always considered it their first duty to serve your Lordships’ House, to respond in engagement and to make sure that our legislation is carried forward in a consensual, understanding and supportive way. I have been honoured to lead those good people, led by my wonderful Deputy Leader, the noble Earl, Lord Howe, and the splendid Captain of the Gentlemen-at-Arms, who created a new uniform never seen in the history of this kingdom—that of a female Captain of the Gentlemen-at-Arms.

I echo what the noble Baroness, Lady Smith, said; I hope it is a good-humoured general election. When we all come back to this place in response to the Summons of our King, let us all come back, wherever we sit and wherever we go, with the same sense of honour, good humour and dedication that all of your Lordships have shown in the course of this Parliament.

This is a truly remarkable institution. I thank all noble Lords—not just my team, but those who work in the opposition parties and on the Cross Benches, and every single one of your Lordships who comes to this great Chamber and does the business of the British people.

Photo of Lord Davies of Brixton Lord Davies of Brixton Llafur

I am just consulting the Companion; is it not correct, in accordance with paragraph 8.74, that manuscript amendments can be moved on Report?

Photo of Lord Newby Lord Newby Liberal Democrat Leader in the House of Lords

My Lords, as the House is aware, the noble Lord the Leader, when the words “Liberal Democrat” are mentioned, is normally at his most benevolent. I have found that, during the time in which he has been Leader of your Lordships’ House, that has indeed been the case in his relations with me. I have greatly appreciated that, whatever differences we may have on great issues of state, when it has come to how we manage your Lordships’ House, he has been a model of helpfulness. It is worth reflecting briefly that, in your Lordships’ House, leaders of the parties and the Chief Whips work closely together and try, to the best of our feeble abilities, to ensure that we manage your Lordships’ House in a way that is helpful to Members.

This has been an extraordinary Parliament; what we achieved during Covid was truly remarkable, but it was only because of the history of working together that it was possible in those circumstances. I echo the Leader’s thanks to all those with whom I have worked across parties to try to ensure that, even though differences on issues of state have been very deep indeed, as always, we have been able to manage the way we have dealt with them in a grown-up way and without personal relations suffering, even though we do not always agree. I equally thank my colleagues—my Chief Whip, and Front-Bench and Back-Bench colleagues, who have worked very hard to make the lives of the noble Lord, Lord True, and his colleagues such a misery—very much indeed.

Photo of The Earl of Kinnoull The Earl of Kinnoull Deputy Chairman of Committees, Convenor of the Crossbench Peers, Deputy Speaker (Lords)

My Lords, I rise on behalf of my colleagues on my Benches to say something very similar. The Leader has, of course, a double-hatted role, and has walked very well the line between being the leader of his party and the Leader of us as a House. I pay tribute to his good humour and hard work. Indeed, last Friday I found myself speaking to him. I had to admit that I was standing in the middle of a field in Perthshire; he was at his desk and said that he had a lot of papers before him. He works very hard, and has always been readily available from the smallest to the biggest of matters. It has been an enormous privilege to have worked with him. I think that the entire Cross Bench feels that he has acted as Leader of the House in a quite exemplary manner; we pay tribute to that.

Photo of Baroness Smith of Basildon Baroness Smith of Basildon Shadow Leader of the House of Lords, Shadow Spokesperson (Northern Ireland), Shadow Spokesperson (Devolved Issues)

My Lords, I will be brief, having spoken already, but want to add my thanks. It is an honour and a privilege to be a Member of this House. When I first came in, someone said to me, “Oh, you’re going to the House of Lords? They don’t do party politics up there, do they?” I think the difference is that we have learned to disagree agreeably, which is important in the debates we have.

I thank the Leader. He is the third Leader of this House that I have worked with, and I have enjoyed working with him. His customary courtesy to this House has been highly regarded; as the Convenor says, he is the Leader of the House as well as leader of his party, and that can be a challenge at times, as we know. I think he has met that challenge.

On behalf of my party, the current Official Opposition, I also thank all the staff of the House for all the work they do—the cleaners, the caterers, the doorkeepers; I hesitate to leave anybody out. Without their support for the work we do, we could not do it as well as we want to do it.

I also thank all my colleagues, particularly my Chief Whip and Front Bench, but also my Back-Bench colleagues on this side of the House and across the House. We have a job of work to do, and I think we do it as diligently and as well as we can. We may not always get it right, but we always have the interests of the nation at heart. I thank the Leader for his courtesy in his current role.

Motion agreed.