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Election of Lord Speaker

Volume 773: debated on Monday 13 June 2016

My Lords, I am sure the whole House will wish to join me in offering our congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Fowler, on being elected Lord Speaker and in offering our support to him as he prepares to take on his new role. I would also like to offer on behalf of the House our thanks to my noble friend Lord Cormack and to the noble Baroness, Lady Garden, for standing in this election. Elections are only possible when there are candidates and we are very grateful to both noble Lords. I would also like to pay a very brief tribute to the noble Baroness, Lady D’Souza, as our most distinguished Lord Speaker. There will be a proper occasion for us to pay tributes after the noble Baroness retires as Lord Speaker—because she remains our most distinguished Lord Speaker until 1 September. In the meantime, I offer my congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Fowler.

My Lords, I concur with the noble Baroness’s comments. We welcome the opportunity at a later date to pay tribute to the work of the noble Baroness, Lady D’Souza, and to thank her for it. As the noble Baroness, Lady Stowell, said, we warmly congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Fowler. His election shows the high regard in which he is held in this House. He will know that he has the support of the entire House as he undertakes his duties. He will bring both his personality and his political skills to the role.

What we have seen today is a parliamentary first in that this is the first time that a man has been elected to the role of Lord Speaker. Nowadays, there are few positions in public life of which that can be said. I add our sincere thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, and the noble Baroness, Lady Garden, for not only having put themselves forward as excellent candidates and given us an excellent choice but for the way in which they conducted themselves during the election, which was a great tribute to them and, indeed, to the whole House. Therefore, we thank them and offer our very warm congratulations to our next Speaker.

My Lords, as the Leader of the House has just said, the election may be run but I do not take over responsibility until 1 September. In the meantime, the Lord Speaker continues to preside in the excellent way we have all admired for the last five years. I would like to make three very brief points. First, I thank the House very sincerely for the exceptional support it has given me. I will do my utmost to live up to this trust.

Secondly, I thank the other two candidates: the noble Baroness, Lady Garden of Frognal, and my noble friend Lord Cormack for the way in which the election was conducted. With the election over, the good news is that the bar on offering hospitality comes to an end and we can buy colleagues drinks. The bad news is that I seem to have inadvertently mislaid my wallet today.

My third, and entirely serious, point is this: my whole purpose from now onwards is to serve all the Members in every part of this House in times which may be crucial for the very future of the House of Lords. My aim quite simply is to be the loyal servant of this House. I thank noble Lords for their support.

My Lords, I, too, add my warmest congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Fowler. While I am somewhat sad to step down, I do so in the sure knowledge that he will be a most distinguished Lord Speaker and will bring new ideas and freshness to the job. I know, too, that he will be wonderfully supported by all the Members of this House, the administration and the staff of the House. I particularly thank the clerks and the doorkeepers, who are the most excellent—perhaps the world’s best—timekeepers. I offer the noble Lord my congratulations once again and hope that he has a very good innings.