My Lords, it is my understanding that in the other place the Prime Minister is leading a debate on the energy crisis and her proposals. As it is a debate and not a Statement, can the Government give some thought and hold discussions in the usual channels to arrange for a debate in government time in this House to discuss this most pressing issue?
As Opposition Chief Whip, I congratulate the noble Baroness on her appointment as Government Chief Whip. She is both a popular and a highly effective Member of your Lordships’ House. I look forward to working with her again.
I thank the noble Lord, Lord Ashton of Hyde, for his service as Government Chief Whip. I always enjoyed working with him; he was kind, courteous and straight in all our dealings. I always enjoyed our conversations that took place many times during the day and even sometimes into the night.
My Lords, if I might—unusually—respond on a usual channels question, I should like to thank the noble Lord for his kind words about my noble friend Lord Ashton, which are widely shared, and about my noble friend Lady Williams. I think this poor old man will often need a helping hand to stop him stumbling and I cannot think of a securer colleague than the noble Baroness.
As for the fundamentally important question that the noble Lord poses, which perhaps goes a little wider than the energy question, my right honourable friend the Prime Minister indicated yesterday a set of what she considers the urgent requirements for the country. They may well eventuate in provisions being laid before Parliament, which it would be my duty to make sure your Lordships’ House has the opportunity to discuss. I fully take his point about the nature of the debate in the other place meaning that I am not standing here repeating a Statement on energy. This is a question of fundamental importance, and I can give an undertaking that we will take it away and have those discussions in the usual channels to see how we can accommodate your Lordships’ House.