My Lords, as proceedings in this Parliament draw to a close, I briefly draw your Lordships’ attention to the start of the next. The new Parliament will meet on Tuesday 18 May and there will be two swearing-in days for this House, on that day at 2.30 pm and Wednesday 19 May at 3 pm.
Before this Parliament finishes, I take this opportunity on behalf of the usual channels and, I am sure, all Members of the House, to express my thanks to all the staff of the House. In particular, I pay tribute to those staff who played a part in supporting the House in sitting until 2.50 am this morning. That includes the attendance of the police, one of whom wandered into the Not-Contents Lobby during a vote very enthusiastically, Clerks, Librarians, catering staff, the Government Chief Whip’s Office, which did a brilliant job in marshalling the business, the Public Bill Office and the administrative and support staff. They all helped to sustain us through the evening and the night with good grace and good humour. We should all be very grateful to them.
I also place on record my thanks to my own Whip’s team and to the Whip’s Offices for the opposition parties, particularly the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, and the noble Lord, Lord Shutt, for the way in which they conducted themselves throughout the wash-up period. I give my thanks, too, to the Cross-Benchers. The House thankfully no longer sits into the wee hours on a regular basis, so it is all the more impressive that on rare occasions like this, when it does happen, staff are still able to deliver the same old late-night magic. I am sure that we are all eternally grateful.
My Lords, it is with pleasure that I thank the noble Lord the Captain of the Gentlemen at Arms for giving us information about the ceremonies that start the new Parliament and for his reflection on the privilege that we have in working with staff in this Palace who look after us throughout every hour of the day and, last night, throughout the night. He mentioned all those in the Public Bill Office and beyond who help us. They do so on a regular basis but during wash-up they are under particular pressure—including, as he so rightly remarked, in the Government Whips’ Office—to turn round information and new Marshalled Lists and to ensure that all noble Lords, whether we attend regularly on the Front Benches or, particularly on particular Bills, on the Back Benches, are well and promptly informed.
I am also aware that Hansard had to be with us until particularly late this morning. One of my colleagues, my noble friend Lord Hunt, reminds me that he indeed received the official record of this morning’s proceedings promptly at 7.30 this morning. It is a record of service to us all that we are fortunate to see.
My Lords, I, too, would like to add my thanks to the staff for the work that was done yesterday. I left this place at 3 am, and it was then a matter of getting home. Getting home is a matter for everybody, and if public transport exists at that hour, it is also a matter of getting home from where public transport ends. I am not to know—none of us is to know—where all of our staff live or the detail of those journeys, but there will have been very tortuous journeys at very strange hours of the day in terms of transport. So we certainly thank them all for the toil of yesterday and the difficulties that they may well have had in getting home.
As we have had the announcement of the signing-in days, it occurs to me that, beyond that, we also have expectations that Her Majesty the Queen will be coming. It would be useful for her as well as for us if we knew when to come and there was someone here to receive her. I am wondering whether the noble Lord has any news on that front, or whether he can tell us when there will be news on that front. That would be helpful to Members of the House.
My Lords, I do not know whether I am allowed to speak very briefly, but perhaps I may just add a word to the staff. I had enormous assistance from the staff in the Public Bill Office, as your Lordships can imagine, in connection with one of the measures that we were considering yesterday. I am most grateful to them.