I have to inform the House that I have received the following letter from the Clerk of the House:
Dear Mr Speaker,
As you know I have decided to retire at the end of September when I will have completed forty four years of service to the House, over a decade of which has been at the Table.
It has been an immense privilege to serve what I unashamedly regard as a Parliament second to none. Over this long period—which began during the Speakership of Horace Maybray King—there have been great challenges and many changes. There have been crises that have rocked the institution. Throughout these times it has remained my firm belief that only by having confidence in itself, in its ability to adapt to the new while keeping to the tried and tested, can the House retain its pre-eminent position as the sovereign body at the centre of our national, democratic life. Unwarranted and unfounded criticism from whatever quarter should not deflect Members from their duties which will necessarily ruffle and disturb the peace of consensus.
I would like to put on record my great debt to members of the staff of the House, at all levels, who have given me unstinting support. They make up a loyal and very effective workforce. I would like to thank my colleagues on the Management Board and in my own office for their invaluable help without which many of the changes that have happened in recent times could not have been made effective.
Friendships with Members and colleagues in the scattered Commonwealth parliaments, which together form an important parliamentary community, have given me much pleasure. Here at home fellow Clerks have kept me on my procedural toes and I have enjoyed working, across party divides, with Members of the House, past and present and with Members and colleagues in the other place.
Finally Mr Speaker may I thank you and your Deputies, with whom I have worked closely, for your trust and for the camaraderie we have enjoyed together which has greatly lightened what can be serious and sometimes difficult moments.
Members will wish to know that I have put in place a competition for the appointment of the Clerk’s successor.
There will be an opportunity to pay the traditional tribute to the Clerk at a later date. [Applause.] That spontaneous reaction demonstrates the respect and affection in which the Clerk of the House is held.