I am sure that the House would wish me to pay tribute before we rise for the Recess to the servants of the House for their devoted work this Session. It has been a heavy Session, placing onerous burdens on the Clerks and Parliamentary draftsmen who have manned the many Committees and coped with thousands of Amendments to almost hundreds of Bills; on the OFFICIAL REPORTERS, who have had to report what must have been a record number of speeches in Committee and in the Chamber; and on the Clerks and printers who have had to prepare through the night massive Order Papers of almost gargantuan size.
I note that today's Order Paper has reached over 9,000 pages and that the Notice Paper of Amendments over 12,000 pages. All this has had to be sifted, prepared and printed in addition to HANSARD, and almost entirely without error. Therefore, on behalf of hon. Members, I say a special word of thanks to the printers.
The same high praise is due to the staff of the Serjeant at Arms, the police, the Library, the kitchen staff and all who serve and guard us in carrying out our duties. But for their ungrudging service the House could not function efficiently.
May I end by expressing, on behalf of the House, warm thanks to Sir Barnett Cocks and all at the Table for their constant, patient and wise advice, which has been at the disposal of every hon. and right hon. Member.
That would be out of order, I think.
I know that many hon. Members wish to speak on the subjects down for debate today. We are not on the Consolidated Fund Bill. The debates have been chosen and timed. I gave the first debate one and a half hours, because I imagined that, as usual, something would happen between 11 and 12 o'clock. I am prepared now to compromise and to let the first debate run until 12.45, but it must stop then. I am afraid that it will be impossible to allow all hon. Members who will seek to catch my eye to speak in this debate.