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Point of Order

Volume 612: debated on Tuesday 5 July 2016

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. As there is a slightly more relaxed atmosphere, I wonder whether the House will indulge me as I offer a broad thank you. Twenty-four years and one month ago, I answered my first oral questions as a junior Minister, and now I have just completed my last one. This is not a sudden post-Brexit resignation—it is not catching. A few weeks ago, I made it clear to the Secretary of State, the Prime Minister and the Chief Whip that, after the referendum, I would not seek a post in what I expected to be a reshuffled Government. In the event, I hope to carry on with my duties until September, but that was my last oral questions. Therefore, in taking the chance that most Ministers do not get because we never know when the end will come, I thank colleagues for their forbearance over many years in subjects as varied as child support, disability, and the Arab spring—and in the relentless pursuit of mental health data by the hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Luciana Berger). I am looking forward to taking part in more questions from another seat in the Chamber, and I wish all colleagues very well indeed.

I will come to the hon. Lady’s point of order, but first let me say that although that is a relatively unconventional way of expressing appreciation, the Minister of State was typically courteous in signalling in advance to me his wish to do so, and I simply want to say to the right hon. Gentleman—I think I can say it without fear of contradiction, and it was evident from the response to his point—that he is an extremely popular and respected Minister who commands widespread affection and loyalty in all parts of the House. We very much look forward to his continuing contributions, albeit in the future from the Back Benches. I thank him for what he said and the way in which he said it.

Exactly on that point, Mr Speaker, may I, on behalf of everyone on the Opposition Benches, pay tribute to the right hon. Gentleman? He has been an absolutely fantastic Minister and he is a brilliant MP. Long may he continue.