My Lords, in moving the adjournment, I wonder whether your Lordships would allow me to pay tribute to the work of the noble Lord, Lord Ampthill, who, as Lord Chairman for the past two and a half years, has presided over a quiet administrative revolution in the way in which the House is run consequent on the Ibbs Report. As chairman of the main domestic committees of the House, he has seen the House assume direct responsibility for accommodation and works and for expenditure on printing and papers. This in turn has meant a restructuring of House committees and the establishment of a proper means for securing sound financial management. We shall soon see the results of some of his labours in the total refurbishment of 6 and 7 Old Palace Yard, to be occupied by the House at Christmas, and in the facilities in the South Return and on the ground floor of the building which will become available in due course.
These major improvements in administration have been accomplished without any lessening in the ordinary duties of this ancient office—the manning of the Woolsack, presiding when the House is in Committee, chairing the Procedure Committee at a time of considerable procedural change and the smooth conduct of private legislation. The noble Lord has shown very great energy in the post. This time last year his work was considerably increased by the sad and temporary absence of Black Rod through ill health. But I feel that all of your Lordships will agree that he was more than equal to the challenge and that he has driven forward changes which the House wanted and needed.
On a more personal note, I am most grateful for his courtesy to me in particular when I first became Leader of your Lordships' House. It is something that I greatly appreciated. The feeling that I received during our conversations was that everything he did was animated by a desire above all to serve your Lordships' House and I am pleased to hear from him that in his retirement his aim is to continue to do so. We all thank him most warmly and wish him well for the future.
§ Lord Richard
My Lords, perhaps the House will allow me to associate the Opposition with the words of the Leader of the House to the noble Lord, Lord Ampthill—I hope that he is here. The noble Lord has now served the House as Chairman of Committees for some years. He has done so with competence, good humour and a genuine desire to accommodate. The House should note his achievements during the Sessions while he has been Chairman of Committees. As the noble Lord the Leader of the House said, they have not been easy years. A great deal of unsung work had to be clone. It was done; it was done efficiently, and it was done well. On behalf of the Opposition, I should like to express our gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Ampthill, for the way in which he has chaired our committees during the past two Sessions.
§ Lord Jenkins of Hillhead
My Lords, this afternoon we have to bid farewell to the noble Lord, Lord Ampthill, as Chairman of Committees and to thank him for the services that he has rendered in that capacity 22 although within quite a short compass. It so happens that in the course of the past few weeks I have, as it were, encountered the careers of two previous holders of the Barony of Ampthill. It seems to me that they illustrated the qualities for which we have particular reason to be grateful to the present Lord Ampthill.
As your Lordships will know, the first Lord Ampthill was perhaps the most notable diplomat of the second half of the 19th century. I refer to Lord Odo Russell, who, having been ambassador to Constantinople, was ambassador to Berlin at the time of the Congress of Berlin when Disraeli arrived, announcing, to the consternation of the rest of the British delegation, that he proposed to make his plenary speech in French. Attempts were made by his secretaries to persuade him not to do so. They were unavailing because Disraeli said that it was the language of diplomacy. Lord Odo Russell, as he then was, said, "I will deal with it". He spoke to Lord Beaconsfield and said, "Nobody doubts your complete mastery of the French language, but what I should tell you is that I have heard many expressions of disappointment from Bismarck, Andrássy and others who were hoping to listen to a speech in English from the greatest master of the English language". Disraeli immediately gave way. That illustrates that tact is an hereditary quality. We have found the noble Lord, Lord Ampthill, very tactful in the discharge of his duties.
The second Lord Ampthill was the Governor of Madras and, as such, was called upon to be acting Viceroy during Lord Curzon's long leave in the summer and autumn of 1904. He discharged those duties admirably and quietly, so much so that some people wished that he might have stayed on longer. I think that there has been an aspect of that, too, in the performance of the noble Lord, Lord Ampthill.
At any rate, we thank the noble Lord, Lord Ampthill, warmly—at least I do—for his sense of public service which puts him fully in the traditions of those two illustrious forebears, and for the style and amiability with which he has conducted his duties, which has certainly made it a pleasure for me to sit under his crisp chairmanship during many committees in the Moses Room.
§ Baroness Hylton-Foster
My Lords, on behalf of the Cross-Bench Peers, perhaps I may welcome the noble Lord, Lord Ampthill, back to activity on our Benches from the isolation of the important job of Chairman of Committees. We should like to thank him for the competent way in which he has chaired House Committees and smoothed a way through the accommodation problems and the procedural complications as well as for all the extra work that he has undertaken because of the unfortunate illness of Black Rod.
We welcome the appointment as Chairman of Committees of the noble Lord, Lord Boston of Faversham, not from a party point of view, but because the Cross-Bench Peers think that the position of Chairman of Committees should be available to any Peer who has the experience, skill, and the respect of 23 the whole House that is needed for undertaking that important job. We wish the noble Lord, Lord Boston, well.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House adjourned at five minutes before five o'clock.