Death of a Member: Lord Judge

Lord McFall of Alcluith Excerpts
Thursday 9th November 2023

(8 months, 1 week ago)

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Lord McFall of Alcluith Portrait The Lord Speaker (Lord McFall of Alcluith)
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My Lords, the former Convenor of the Cross-Bench Peers, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, died on 7 November. On behalf of the House, I extend our condolences to the noble and learned Lord’s family and friends.

Lord Judge was one of the wisest and kindest men I have ever met. He was never one to use two words where one would suffice, and was always keen to hear all sides before forming an opinion. Igor had a marvellous ability to listen intently, reflect quietly and then interject, usually with a brief few words that brought clarity to a discussion. I valued greatly his advice and support to me as Lord Speaker. His lifelong history of service as a Queen’s Counsel, a judge, the President of the Queen’s Bench Division, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, and an active Member of this House—including, most recently, the Convenor of the Cross Benches until earlier this year—speaks for itself. How fortunate we were to serve alongside him. He will be much missed by noble Lords and, I know, by the staff of the House.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, I know that noble Lords from across the House were deeply shocked and saddened to learn yesterday of the passing of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge. I add my sadness and deepest condolences to his family.

I enjoyed nearly a year with him as Convenor of the Cross Benches. Whatever the great matters of state that we should have been discussing, we usually ended up just talking about our families. My oh my, he loved his family so much—that is probably the one takeaway I had from him.

As is normal, we will now hear tributes from the usual channels. I know that many noble Lords have passed their heartfelt remarks on to the leaders and convenor, who will, I am sure, do their best to reflect the outpourings of admiration and sadness that they have received. I am also aware that some other noble Lords may feel that they want to pay tribute today. It is customary for the focus of tributes to come from the leaders and usual channels but, if other noble Lords would like to contribute, I respectfully ask that their contributions be as brief as possible. I expect any Back-Bench remarks to be no more than a minute long, as we have seen with other similar tributes.

Noble Lords may also find it helpful to know that the Office of the Convenor of the Cross Benches is co-ordinating written tributes and regards for Lord Judge’s family, should noble Lords wish to pass those on. I have no doubt that, in the fullness of time, they will be very warmly received.

King’s Speech

Lord McFall of Alcluith Excerpts
Tuesday 7th November 2023

(8 months, 1 week ago)

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Lord McFall of Alcluith Portrait The Lord Speaker (Lord McFall of Alcluith)
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My Lords, I have to acquaint the House that His Majesty was pleased this morning to make a most gracious Speech from the Throne to both Houses of Parliament assembled in the House of Lords. Copies of the gracious Speech are available in the Printed Paper Office.

I have, for the convenience of the House, arranged for the terms of the gracious Speech to be published in the Official Report.

Motion for an Humble Address

Moved by

Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Lord McFall of Alcluith Excerpts
Friday 9th September 2022

(1 year, 10 months ago)

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Lord McFall of Alcluith Portrait The Lord Speaker (Lord McFall of Alcluith)
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My Lords, in a moment, the Leader of the House will begin today’s solemn business and lead the House of Lords in making tributes to Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. I will first offer a short contribution from the Woolsack.

Her late Majesty, whom we mourn today, was, for over 70 years, a loyal and steadfast presence in the national life of the United Kingdom. Her strong sense of public duty and her devotion to the welfare and happiness of her people served to bind our nation together during an epoch of unprecedented societal and technological change. Her unique record of public service, deep sense of faith and commitment to her role ensure that she will be regarded as a supreme example of a constitutional monarch.

Today, my thoughts, and indeed those of the whole House, go out to members of her family, especially His Majesty the King, for whom this feeling of loss will be profound. I offer my devoted sympathy, as well as the thoughts, prayers, commitment and dedication of this House and its Members.

Lord True Portrait The Lord Privy Seal (Lord True) (Con)
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My Lords, this is an appropriately dark and dreary day, and one we prayed would never come. These are words that I hoped never to hear spoken, let alone to have to speak.

I ask myself how people will conceive of life without Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the heart and focus of our nation’s love and loyalty. For millions of people, she was the mother of our nation and the literal embodiment of the United Kingdom, which she so cherished. The shock will be immense and the grief unmeasured—as we already see. Even people in their 70s have never known life without her. She was our anchor of stability in a changing world and our exemplar of conduct and courtesy—one who, from the highest position in the land, showed us day by day the virtues of dignity, civility, humility, truthfulness and service.

“The Queen”: two little words that identified her instantly in seven continents and 100 languages. Can we conceive never again hearing that voice—that kindly, gentle voice, as we heard it from that very Throne at our State Openings—giving, in her royal broadcasts at Christmas or lately during lockdown, her unvarying message of faith and hope? Her voice was warmly encouraging to so many people on her myriad daily visits to hospitals, schools and factories and all the public places in cities, towns and villages here and across all her realms and territories—indeed the whole world. No one ever questioned her work ethic; she was Queen for everyone, every place and every generation.

In a moving and unusually public remark—because Her Majesty had that diamond among virtues, discretion—Her Majesty said of the husband that she so loved, our late lamented Prince Philip, that he was quite simply her

“strength and stay all these years”.

So was she to us, and to all the countries and peoples of the great Commonwealth that she herself, beyond all others, nurtured, and to which she was devoted. She was our strength and stay for 70 years—firm in her duty, wise in her counsel, reassuring in her smile and gracious in her every act, whether in stretching out the hand of reconciliation in Ireland or encouraging a timorous child hovering with a bouquet that he dared not present.

How many tens of millions of people over 70 long years have travelled, sometimes hundreds of miles, to see her, the most famous woman in the world—although that was the very last thing she would ever have sought to be? Having seen her, they were touched by her warmth and went home with joy in their hearts, secure that there was a sparkle of goodness and a spirit of good humour in the world—and, my goodness, Her Majesty had humour and wit. People were just glad that she had come to their little corner of the world; frankly, people were just glad that she was there. For as they loved the public Queen, they also loved the private Queen, with her dogs and horses and her joy in Scotland’s countryside, wherein she died. Many who came to see her were from other nations, not her subjects, on her state visits or on their visits to this country. She was our nation’s greatest magnet and our finest diplomat. None will ever have forgotten that day when they saw her, however long it was ago.

All of us, whether we knew her or not, felt that we knew her and were glad that we knew her. Of all the different things we felt we knew, the one thing we all surely knew lies in that one word: duty. Hers was a life given to duty, to the service of her peoples, service to others: unceasing, utterly selfless service given with resilience and forbearance even in the difficult times. From that moment in her 21st birthday broadcast when she declared that her whole life would be devoted to our service, through her sacred coronation oath, to what we witnessed this last week, when this quite extraordinary woman summoned the last drops of her strength to say farewell to her 14th Prime Minister and appoint her 15th, it was duty, my Lords—duty. Many of us make many promises, and we all fall short of them. In 1947 and 1953, Her Majesty made one great and solemn vow of lifelong service, and she honoured it without flinch or blemish for 75 years.

Therein was another quality of Her Majesty: constancy and courage—the courage that we saw when, at Trooping the Colour, a demented man fired shots at her that no one then knew were blanks. That consummate horsewoman steadied her horse and just got on with it, as her generation did. She displayed that courage this last week too, even unto the threshold of death.

Government: Ministerial Changes

Lord McFall of Alcluith Excerpts
Wednesday 7th September 2022

(1 year, 10 months ago)

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Lord McFall of Alcluith Portrait The Lord Speaker (Lord McFall of Alcluith)
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My Lords, I join with colleagues in thanking the noble Baroness, Lady Evans, for her dedicated service. I acknowledge her as the longest serving Leader of the House in almost 70 years. I became Senior Deputy Speaker shortly after she took office in 2016 and enjoyed working with her both in that role and now as Lord Speaker. Since 2019, I have also had the pleasure of working with the noble Lord, Lord Ashton, and in particular I worked closely with both as we adapted our procedures during the Covid-19 pandemic. I am grateful to the noble Baroness and the noble Lord, and indeed to the noble Earl, Lord Howe, for their warm and constructive engagement across the years. I offer them my best wishes for the future.

Queen’s Speech

Lord McFall of Alcluith Excerpts
Tuesday 10th May 2022

(2 years, 2 months ago)

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Lord McFall of Alcluith Portrait The Lord Speaker (Lord McFall of Alcluith)
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My Lords, I have to acquaint the House that this morning His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, in the presence of His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge, both of them acting in their capacity as Counsellors of State, gave Her Majesty’s most gracious Speech to both Houses of Parliament assembled in the House of Lords. Copies of the gracious Speech are available on the Printed Paper Office table in the Royal Gallery, and I have, for the convenience of the House, arranged for the terms of the gracious Speech to be published in the Official Report.

Motion for an Humble Address

Moved by

Business of the House

Lord McFall of Alcluith Excerpts
Thursday 17th March 2022

(2 years, 4 months ago)

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Lord Young of Norwood Green Portrait Lord Young of Norwood Green (Lab)
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My Lords, I am grateful to the Lord Speaker for giving me the opportunity to set the record straight about what happened on Monday night. I endeavoured to make a contribution—your Lordships were denied my pearls of wisdom on the difference between genetic modification and gene editing, but that is for another time—but was discourteously dismissed by the noble Baroness, Lady Bloomfield, on the grounds that, she suggested, I had been asleep during the Minister’s contribution. I said to her that that was not true and in fact what I was doing was listening, as we do, with my ear against the speaker—fortunately, today my hearing aid batteries are now in and I am not reliant on that.

The point I wish to make is this: not only did it cause some damage—passing, I hope—to my reputation but it damaged the reputation of the House unnecessarily, in my view. There are procedures for dealing with this and it should not have been dealt with in that way.

I received what purported to be a letter of apology from the noble Baroness, Lady Bloomfield, and it started with: “Whatever the rights or wrongs”. It seemed to me that that was not really an apology—more of an equivocation, at best—and I do not accept that it was an apology.

I felt that there was an obligation—and I said this to the noble Baroness, Lady Bloomfield, in my reply—to set the record straight in this House, as I am endeavouring to do now, and that she should be here to hear that and, in my view, apologise to the House. That would have been the proper thing to do. She has chosen to be absent and noble Lords can draw what conclusions they like, but I thank all those people, especially those on the opposite Benches—not just them, my comrades as well—who came to me and expressed their concern about the behaviour which they regarded as appalling and discourteous. I thank the Lord Speaker for the opportunity to set the record straight.

Lord McFall of Alcluith Portrait The Lord Speaker (Lord McFall of Alcluith)
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The Question is that the Business of the House Motion be agreed to.

Motion agreed.

Health and Care Bill

Lord McFall of Alcluith Excerpts
Lord Ashton of Hyde Portrait Lord Ashton of Hyde (Con)
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My Lords, before we commence proceedings on the Bill, I will outline the plan for today. We will shortly begin the eighth day in Committee on the Bill. There is no other business, but we will take a short break around 2 pm. We will sit until 7 pm. At the outset, I thank the staff of the House for supporting this additional lengthy Friday sitting, both those here in the Chamber and those who do the enormous amount of work that goes on behind the scenes to get the House up and running.

I fear that noble Lords know what I will say next. I do not want to deny the House the fullest chance to scrutinise this Bill. As over 40 hours have been devoted to that end, not even my fiercest critics could say that time for debate has been curtailed. However, we still have a lot of amendments to get through. I know, based on the experience of last Wednesday, that good progress can be made. I know that the Front Benches will work to ensure that their contributions are concise and to the point and I hope that all noble Lords will do the same.

We should perhaps bear in mind the late, great Nicholas Parsons and make our speeches without repetition, hesitation or deviation and perhaps for just a minute. This is a self-governing House, so all I can do is ask and implore noble Lords to respect the conventions and courtesies of the House to ensure effective and efficient scrutiny of this legislation.

Lord McFall of Alcluith Portrait The Lord Speaker (Lord McFall of Alcluith)
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My Lords, before calling the first amendment, I indicate that the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, will be taking part remotely.

Clause 141: Provision of social care services: financial assistance

Amendment 237

Moved by
--- Later in debate ---
Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Portrait Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle (GP)
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My Lords, I will also speak to Amendments 238 and 239 in my name. Predatory and rent-seeking financial practices by investment firms and hedge funds, which are often based in tax havens and have extremely complex ownership structures, have placed unmanageable financial and human costs on the UK care sector. I first learned about this issue in 2016 from the brilliant Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change, which was then based in Manchester but is sadly no longer extant. Since then, the issue has become a staple on the pages of the Financial Times. If any noble Lord does not know about this issue, I urge them to look up “UK social care” on ft.com. They will see there a long string of stories from a publication that does not generally represent my side of politics saying how much of a problem this is.

I also note that, last week, the noble Lord, Lord Sikka, not currently in his place, initiated an Oral Question that highlighted some of the worst abuses in financialised care homes, from HC-One siphoning off 20% of its revenues to offshore affiliates through intra-group transactions to—as was highlighted by the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, who may raise this again later—the industry average of 16% of the money going not to care but to the financial sector. The crisis is here and was further highlighted by the recent “Panorama” report.

What is lacking, however, and I have been looking for them since 2016, is solutions. How do we change this situation? It is worth pointing out that this is not how things have always been. Back in the 1980s, the NHS was generally known as a world leader for geriatric care, as it was then known, picking up half of the care sector for older people. In 1982, there were only 44,000 private care home beds. By 1994, there were 164,000. The number of charity, non-profit, local authority beds plummeted and the private sector came in or displaced the public.

The amendments to the Health and Care Bill that I am presenting today rely on the work of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Limits to Growth. Its excellent report covers these issues in much more detail than I have time to do today and I urge noble Lords to look at it. The group worked on and produced these amendments.

Amendment 237 takes what I think could be a deeply dangerous element of the Government’s Bill, which has received little attention thus far. It is the provision allowing for government support of private care facilities. This is not possible now. Amendment 237 would add the provision that these funds cannot be used to make payments on debt obligations for for-profit bodies or in distributions to shareholders—huge payouts that were highlighted in last week’s debate.

However, that takes us further, and it is interesting that the government amendment—I suspect unintentionally—actually gives us a way forward to start to unwind the privatisation, as there is a potential problem. We have already seen two major private care home crashes: Southern Cross in 2011 and Four Seasons Health Care in 2019. When—I will not say if—more crash, how do we start to move towards worker co-operatives, social enterprises, local authority homes and charity-run homes? How do we ensure that people can stay in those homes safely and be cared for, and not see the money siphoned off into offshore tax havens? We can use Clause 141 with this amendment for potentially very positive, even revolutionary, purposes.

Amendment 238 picks up a point that I often make that a foundation for tackling our out-of-control financial sector and ensuring that fair taxes are paid by companies is country-by-country reporting. The amendment requires any related companies within the same corporate group that are registered offshore to be under the same financial reporting and publication requirements as those bodies registered in the UK. That means that expenditure on dividends, directors’ fees, interest payment and similar would have to be fully and transparently declared. I have to ask the Minister: what does he have against transparency in the financial sector? What could the Government possibly have against seeing exactly where the money goes—whether it is the money of older, vulnerable people in our society or the state money that is supporting them? That is all that this amendment does; it demands that transparency.

These two amendments are not a total solution—I do not have a panacea for the situation—but they are a start, and that is why they combine with the third amendment in this group, Amendment 239, which calls for a review. It is a very simple, obvious amendment of a type often seen in your Lordships’ House. I note that I am joining the former Conservative Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who also recently called for a review of the funding. We see some unusual alliances in this House; this is an unusual alliance between the two Houses.

As we all know and has just been highlighted, the many hours of this debate have focused on what a mess the care sector is. These are the most vulnerable members in our society, and a significant part of that mess is because money is being siphoned away from their care. We can use the Bill, with these three modest amendments, to start to turn around that situation. I beg to move.

Lord McFall of Alcluith Portrait The Lord Speaker (Lord McFall of Alcluith)
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My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, is taking part remotely. I invite her to speak.

Baroness Brinton Portrait Baroness Brinton (LD) [V]
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My Lords, I support Amendments 237, 238 and 239 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett of Manor Castle, which aim to ensure that private providers are regulated, especially those using obfuscatory financial structures, instruments with inter-company loans and large amounts of debt. They should be fully transparent about those arrangements. She was right to highlight the excellent reporting of the Financial Times on this, along with the financial editors and journalists of other papers.

The typical small business social care home owner does not fall into the category I have just described. The problem in the sector is the private equity providers who decided to start buying up care home groups because they felt that the assets could be milked to provide healthy-looking returns for them. This differs from those homes borrowing in order to, perhaps, buy new homes to enlarge their group; what is happening here is purely financial instruments to benefit the directors and investors. Typically, private equity-backed providers spend around 16% of the bed fee on complex buyout debt obligations. The accounts of Care UK show that it paid £4.1 million in rent in 2019 to Silver Sea Holdings—a company registered in low-tax Luxembourg, which is also owned by Care UK’s parent company, Bridgepoint.

These kinds of buyouts are also associated with an 18% increase in risk of bankruptcy for the target company. In the case of Four Seasons Health Care, heavy debt payments contributed to the company’s collapse into administration in 2019. Two of the other largest care home providers in the UK, HC-One and Care UK, have also undergone leveraged buyouts and, as a result, their corporate group structures remain saddled with significant debts. Some of these types of company are also struggling to provide the best possible care with their overall CQC scores—so it is affecting the lives of the most vulnerable patients.

The Office for National Statistics says that 63% of care home residents are paid for by the public purse. Surely the Government must have a duty towards the public purse. It is not acceptable for the public purse to pay for these complex financial arrangements that are intended to provide not care or capital for the growth of a care business but purely a larger return for directors and shareholders. These amendments would provide for transparency and accountability and an assurance that the public purse and the private payer are not being taken for a ride.

Arrangement of Business

Lord McFall of Alcluith Excerpts
Monday 6th December 2021

(2 years, 7 months ago)

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Lord McFall of Alcluith Portrait The Lord Speaker (Lord McFall of Alcluith)
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My Lords, as agreed by the House last week, from today Oral Questions will no longer have speakers’ lists. As it is over 18 months since we conducted Questions without a list, the arrangements may be unfamiliar to newer Members of your Lordships’ House. There are also new arrangements for the calling of those Members who are eligible to participate remotely in the work of the House. The Leader of the House will now outline briefly how Question Time will operate.

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Evans of Bowes Park) (Con)
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I thank the Lord Speaker. As he rightly said, from today Oral Questions will no longer have a speakers’ list. I will briefly set out on behalf of the usual channels how Question Time will work.

With no lists there will be no agreed speaking order, so supplementary questions will rotate around the parties and groups in the Chamber. Those noble Lords who are permitted to take part virtually may do so in Questions provided that they give notice. Like Members in the Chamber, they are not guaranteed a chance to speak; whether they are invited to do so will be agreed in advance with their parties and groups. During Questions, at an appropriate point I will indicate that the House will hear virtually from a Peer belonging to the party or group whose turn it is.

As noble Lords observed in last week’s debate, the spontaneity of Question Time plays an important part in the House holding Ministers to account. However, some Peers have said that they did not feel as comfortable joining in with Questions. Therefore, as the Senior Deputy Speaker observed, it will be incumbent on all Members to respect the House’s tradition of self-regulation, mutual respect and courtesy. As part of that tradition, it is important that during Question Time the House hears a range of views and from as many Members as possible in the time allowed. Rather than return to the previous seven minutes for each Question, we are now allowing 10 minutes. That should mean that at least 10 supplementary questions can be asked and answered, which I hope will ensure that the House can hear from Members on all sides of any issue.

As noble Lords are aware, the Companion sets out that Ministers’ initial replies should be brief and no more than 75 words and that subsequent replies should also be concise. The Companion also states:

“Supplementary questions should be short and confined to not more than two points.”


It goes on to say that supplementaries should be

“confined to the subject of the original question, and ministers should not answer irrelevant questions. The essential purpose of supplementaries is to elicit information, and they should not incorporate statements of opinion. They should not be read.”

In brief, that means that all supplementaries should take about 30 seconds and ministerial replies should be correspondingly short. I hope that noble Lords will observe these courtesies to ensure that Question Time works for the whole House.

Early Years Interventions

Lord McFall of Alcluith Excerpts
Wednesday 1st December 2021

(2 years, 7 months ago)

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Baroness Chisholm of Owlpen Portrait Baroness Chisholm of Owlpen (Con)
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I have to say to my noble friend that I have not read the report, but I certainly will—it is going to be my weekend reading. We welcome the report from the Lords Public Services Committee. We are reviewing its recommendations and will respond in due course. Our work and investment towards introducing family hubs that work with children and families from birth to adulthood is so important in the field of vulnerable children and young people.

Lord McFall of Alcluith Portrait The Lord Speaker (Lord McFall of Alcluith)
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My Lords, the time allowed for this Question has elapsed.

Tributes: Sir David Amess MP

Lord McFall of Alcluith Excerpts
Monday 18th October 2021

(2 years, 9 months ago)

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Lord McFall of Alcluith Portrait The Lord Speaker (Lord McFall of Alcluith)
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My Lords, before I call the Leader of the House to begin the tributes to the late Sir David Amess MP, I would like to make some brief remarks of my own.

Sir David was not a Member of this House, but he was one of us. He was a true parliamentarian. He was also an exemplar of decency and courtesy. When I entered Parliament in 1987, Sir David had already served in the Commons for four years. I quickly found myself working with him on cross-party and international issues, as well as on social campaigns and causes that promoted the common good. David relished working across the party divides. He was not tribal. As an example to the society we live in, he embraced minorities and was tolerant, not intolerant. His willingness to reach out and engage with those he represented went to the heart of what he considered to be his vocation in life. He could never have been accused of being remote or detached.

He championed Private Members’ Bills on animal welfare and fuel poverty, always speaking up for his constituents and placing their concerns at the heart of his work here in Westminster. He was well known in his local area and was keen to engage the local press in his many campaigns; his frequent engagement with the sub-editors obviously paid off when, following a trip to Rome, one headline read “Pope Francis meets David Amess”.

His character was well known. At the weekend, I heard one TV commentator refer to him as a little eccentric. Well, if that was the case, I declare: long live eccentrics. Not once did I meet him in these corridors over the 34 years we served together without being met with an enormous smile as he bounded toward me with a spring in his step. He had an ability to make every encounter bright—something which reminded me time and again of the inherent goodness of humanity.

Today, Parliament mourns. We join with his family, his friends, his staff and those who knew him and worked with him. It is right that we conclude our proceedings today by joining together with the House of Commons to pray for him, remember him and celebrate all that he was and all that he gave to this place and to the nation.

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Evans of Bowes Park) (Con)
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Like all noble Lords, I was shocked, shaken and saddened by the tragic death of Sir David Amess on Friday. He was killed while holding a constituency surgery in a place of sanctuary, serving the residents of Southend West as he had done proudly since 1997. As the Lord Speaker said, Sir David was a veteran parliamentarian of almost four decades who was admired and respected across both Houses of Parliament. Only three other sitting MPs have served the House of Commons and their constituents longer than Sir David had.

A working-class boy from the east end of London, Sir David was first elected in Basildon, in 1983. It was a bellwether seat for the 1992 general election which he held on to with the backing of Essex men—and women—providing the pivotal moment of the night that Sir John Major won an unexpected majority. At the 1997 general election, Sir David moved to the neighbouring constituency of Southend West, and our very own Lady Smith followed him as the MP for Basildon. She tells me that she soon discovered that one of Sir David’s traditions was giving students a spelling test on primary school visits. Apparently, he had a preoccupation with two words in particular, and the local schools had posters of them plastered all over the walls to ensure that their students were ready to impress their visiting MP. I understand that there is a certain cohort, educated in south Essex, who have Sir David to thank for being able to spell “yacht” and “unnecessary” correctly.

In his new seat, Sir David continued his tradition of campaigning in a motorhome, playing his song, which I assure noble Lords I will not attempt to sing but which went:

“Vote, vote, vote, for David Amess,

David is the man for you.

If you want to be true blue, and to air your points of view,

Then David Amess is the only man for you.”

Although his campaign style was compared to that of an ice-cream vendor, it was authentically Sir David, and it worked.

Throughout his parliamentary career, he was well known as a dedicated Brexiteer, a doughty animal rights campaigner, a devout Roman Catholic and a devoted constituency champion. It is true to say that he achieved more on the Beck Benches than many of us Ministers manage to achieve in government; he piloted numerous Private Member’s Bills into law, such as those on cruel tethering and warm homes, helped to ensure that the bravery of Raoul Wallenberg was recognised with a memorial statue, and organised 200 inspirational students from the Music Man Project to perform at the Royal Albert Hall and again at the London Palladium.

There cannot be anyone in this House who is not aware of Sir David’s campaign to make Southend a city, a campaign that he pursued doggedly and determinedly, but with the humour and warmth that characterised his approach, because above all, he was a kind, generous and decent human being. I am delighted to tell the House, if noble Lords did not know already, that the Prime Minister has confirmed that Her Majesty the Queen has agreed that Southend will be accorded the city status that it so clearly deserves.

I was not lucky enough to have known Sir David well personally. However, from the stories that I have read from colleagues, friends and strangers over the weekend, it is clear that he was a wonderful man who touched the lives of many. So many colleagues have commented on his love of being a parliamentarian. Whether in the House or in his beloved constituency, he had as much joy and enthusiasm in his fourth decade in the job as he did in his first, and that enthusiasm was infectious to all with whom he served. A former colleague of mine from Policy Exchange, who began his career working for Sir David, shared what many have commented was an accurate reflection of his character: not being bothered about missing or even returning a call from David Cameron, the then Prime Minister, yet turning his office upside down to find a missing local charity invitation for a duck race, and moving heaven and earth at all hours of the day for constituents in need.

My husband, James, joined the House of Commons following the last election, and experienced Sir David’s generosity of friendship first-hand. They spent some time together recently, during lockdown, discussing Sir David’s new book, Ayes & Ears, as part of his virtual book tour. Said with great humour and a big smile, it is fair to say that Sir David’s opening line of “Now then, James, someone told me that you sleep with a member of the Cabinet” was not the introduction that James was expecting. In his book, Sir David asked how someone like him, born into relative poverty and with no great political helping hand, became a Conservative Member of Parliament.

The many thousands of people that he helped, and the causes that he supported, will be for ever grateful that he made that journey from those humble beginnings in Plaistow. As would be expected from Sir David, the proceeds office book will go to three charities whose causes he consistently championed: Endometriosis UK, Prost8 and the Music Man Project.

I stand here today not just as the Leader of this House but as the wife of an MP. I see the vital work they do day in, day out, on the front line to help some of the most vulnerable people in society: listening and offering support, and speaking up for those without a voice, all to serve the people in their constituencies, regardless of how they voted. Of course, for many of your Lordships here today, that was your daily reality when you served in the other place.

Alongside Jo Cox, we now have had the horror of two MPs in the last five years killed while doing their jobs—simply serving their constituents, as they were elected to do. One of our own colleagues, the noble Lord, Lord Jones of Cheltenham, was badly injured and his aide Andrew Pennington killed in a horrific act of violence. Any attack on any parliamentarian is an attack on our democracy. All of us, across both Houses, across all parties and groups, stand together in condemnation of these senseless and callous attacks. It is right that the security measures in place for MPs are reviewed, but we cannot allow these dreadful events to break the close link between MPs and their constituents which is so central to our democracy.

It has been a devastating week for our party, our Parliament and our country, with the loss first of our dear friend James Brokenshire, and now of the much-loved Sir David Amess—both men taken from us too soon and with so much more to give. But today, I know I speak on behalf of the whole House when I say that our deepest sympathies are with Sir David’s family, friends and staff, especially his wife Julia and their five children. We have lost a dedicated public servant and a colleague, but they have lost a husband and a father. I hope they can find some comfort in our admiration and respect for the most decent of men.

Sir David’s family have called on everyone to set aside their differences and show kindness and love to all—something we should all reflect on. I know that there are many noble Lords who wish to speak today who had the honour of knowing Sir David much better than me. I look forward to learning more about him from them, but I have no doubt that we can all learn from Sir David’s example of compassion, kindness and public service.

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That is the best place for faith because, when you wear it in your heart, it shapes everything.
Lord McFall of Alcluith Portrait The Lord Speaker (Lord McFall of Alcluith)
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My Lords, I will call three remote contributions before opening up to the rest of the House.

Baroness Brinton Portrait Baroness Brinton (LD) [V]
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My Lords, my noble friend Lord Jones of Cheltenham cannot be in his place today but has asked me to start by saying something on his behalf about Sir David Amess. As noble Lords have already heard, my noble friend Lord Jones was himself attacked, and his aide and friend, Councillor Andy Pennington, was killed, at a constituency surgery in 2000.

My noble friend wants me to say on his behalf:

“To learn David’s life has been taken is the most unimaginable shock. I simply can’t believe this has happened again, and to the kindest, most decent of men.


He was a mate, David. We were on opposite sides of every debate, he voted the wrong way on most things and disagreed with me on just about everything. We were in different parties but always got on well. He was a wonderful personality and worked exceptionally hard for his constituents.


He was a proper parliamentarian, a dedicated public servant and a lovely man. If he bumped into me when he had visitors to the House, he’d say, ‘Oh and this is my friend Nigel, he was attacked, you know? Do you remember, he was on the television?’ I’m appalled that he has suffered like this.


David, like my friend Andy Pennington and I, was just trying to do the job to the best of his ability. Our democracy relies on an open channel between those in power and the people who we represent. It’s vital to be able to meet people face-to-face so they can feel we are here and working for them.”


Turning to my own tribute, I first got to know Sir David when I joined your Lordships’ House a decade ago and he quickly nobbled me—there is no other word—to join the all-party group for fire safety and rescue, which he chaired; I really did not have a choice. He had been a friend of my father, Tim Brinton, having met when they were MPs together, and David knew that my stepmother, Jeanne, had been a Conservative chairman of the Kent fire safety committee and that I had campaigned actively for sprinklers in schools. But that was David: every argument well researched, compliments paid and, before I knew it, I was even an officer of the all-party group too. To the utter bemusement of the much younger members of the all-party group and visiting experts, he usually introduced me as Tim Brinton’s daughter, which always made me very proud. Their friendship was based on rejecting preferment but loving the core job of being an MP, both in the constituency and in the House.

Over the decade that followed, I saw David’s campaigning zeal through the work of the all-party group, holding Ministers and sector professionals to account. Schools Fire Minister after Schools Fire Minister and Building Planning Minister after Building Planning Minister were truly held to account in David’s inimitable style. Of course, our work became even more important after the tragedy of the Grenfell fire and still is not over. We will carry it on in his memory.

Many have spoken since Friday of David’s kindness, decency, courtesy and humour. I have seen all in plenty. I was unwell for a large part of last year, and he rang me regularly to check on my progress. I want to send my deepest sympathy to Julia, their children, his wider family and all his staff and colleagues.

In this day and age of daily abuse—online and in person—death threats, attacks and even murders, David stood as an oasis of reasonable behaviour and genuine affection for all those who crossed his path. In 2017, Christians in Politics ran a campaign for learning to disagree well. I cannot think of a better example than David of always disagreeing well. In political terms, we were polar opposites, but, with him, that was never a barrier: he always found what we had in common, and we could stand together. His faith was intrinsic to every action, every word he uttered and every passing smile to faces that he recognised. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

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Baroness Masham of Ilton Portrait Baroness Masham of Ilton (CB) [V]
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My Lords, as many people were, I was especially shocked and saddened when I heard of the terrible murder of David while he was helping his people. I had the privilege of working with him on liver disease and hepatitis C. He was always cheerful and good to be with. We shared an interest in animals and the same faith. We are the poorer for having lost two very good Members of Parliament while they were doing their work. I send my heartfelt condolences to his family. Could priests be allowed to attend a crime scene so that they can give the victim their last rites, especially when they are dying?

Lord McFall of Alcluith Portrait The Lord Speaker (Lord McFall of Alcluith)
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My Lords, I open to the House.

Lord Howard of Lympne Portrait Lord Howard of Lympne (Con)
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My Lords, David Amess and I entered the House of Commons together at the 1983 general election. He was my colleague and friend for nearly 40 years. He was, as so many others have said, a really lovely man. He was one of that select band of people who are truly life-enhancing. When you left a meeting with David, even a chance encounter, you felt happier and better than you had felt before.

He was one of those rare human beings who looked for the best in others and, in doing so, brought out the best in them. He was a living antidote to the cynicism with which so many regard politics and politicians, and I join so many others in expressing my heartfelt sympathy to his family. He was, of course, a Conservative, and his conservative beliefs were deeply held and truly felt. However, as so many have said this afternoon, they did not in any way prove an impediment to his working with others across parties for the causes in which he believed.

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Lord Ashton of Hyde Portrait Lord Ashton of Hyde (Con)
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My Lords, as I explained earlier, we have to end now because the House is going to join the House of Commons and process at 5.30 pm behind the Lord Speaker to St Margaret’s. However, I am of course aware that many other noble Lords would have liked to pay tribute to Sir David today. Those Members who have not had a chance to speak may email their speeches to Hansard by noon on Friday. Those speeches will be included in a special collection of tributes published by Hansard which will be sent to Sir David’s family. I shall now adjourn the House so we can join the procession starting at 5.30 pm from the Chamber.

Lord McFall of Alcluith Portrait The Lord Speaker (Lord McFall of Alcluith)
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My Lords, Members who wish to take part in the procession to the service in St Margaret’s should wait in the Chamber as we prepare to leave in the next few minutes.

House adjourned at 5.23 pm.